For the better part of seven months, Ted Heid was fresh out of jokes. But now he's back behind the counter of his own liquor store entertaining customers once again.
Heid, a third-generation Routt County native, is the former owner of Sundance Liquor. When he lost his lease in Sundance Plaza, he went dark for seven months and his supply of jokes dried up.
Heid resurfaced in October next to the new South Side Station convenience store developed by Steve and Denise Peterson. The store sells Shell gasoline, and the building is notable for the steel cutout of a stagecoach on its faÃ§ade. It's situated on U.S. Highway 40 between Walton Pond Apartments and the U.S. Forest Service offices.
"We go way back. Steve and I used to sky dive together," Heid said of the Petersons. "The sad thing is, it's expensive to go out of business, and it's expensive to get back into business. But, it's nice to have landlords who are excited to have you, and it's getting better every day."
Heid said he was close to signing a lease on the new store when he shut the doors on his Sundance Plaza location.
Denise Peterson said Heid has a loyal clientele base that has followed him to the new store, and that's a benefit to the convenience store and gas pumps next door.
"We thought it would be a good marriage," Peterson said. "It's an advantageous situation for people to be able to visit both stores in one stop."
Peterson has resigned herself to the idea that she may have to take a back seat to Heid even though she and her husband own the building and the convenience store business.
"I was having a conversation in line at the grocery checkout and explaining the location of our new store," Peterson laughed. "The woman said, 'Oh, you're out at Ted's place!'"
Heid is a realist and knows that not all of his old customers will seek him out: "They have to drive by 11 other liquor stores to get to me." But he's already hitting his one-year targets after three months in business.
Heid's new store is significantly smaller than the old Sundance Liquor, and he's growing accustomed to the change.
"I downsized, and with downsizing, it's so many less headaches," Heid said. "You don't have to carry 10 different crÃme sherrys."
The old store had 2,800 square feet of retail space and at times, Heid said, he was carrying $40,000 of filler inventory just to make the store look fully stocked.
Now, he's concentrating on time-tested customer favorites in a 1,200-square-foot store.
It's winter, and it's red wine season in Steamboat. Heid has a nice grouping of domestic and imported wines in the medium price ranges, with a concentration of Australian wines. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have a small selection of upper-end wines. If a customer walks in seeking a Cakebread cabernet at $42.99 or even a Silver Oak at $150, he can accommodate them.
The label with a picture of two black bears rowing a boat is what sells the Bearboat Pinot Noir, but at $21 it also happens to be a very good wine value, Heid said without hesitation.
Interestingly, Heid finds that Bud Light sells at a much more rapid pace in his new store than it does at the old store.
Heid has a strong built-in customer base with Walton Pond Apartments next door, and 360 motel rooms clustered within walking distance just across U.S. 40. It isn't uncommon for a motel guest to pop into the convenience store to purchase a forgotten toothbrush from manager Susan Saari, and then pick up a six pack.
Heid says he is partial to light beers when recreating in Colorado's outdoors, but when he's at home in front of a football game, his latest favorite is Newcastle Brown Ale.
Heid is finding his new drive-up window is popular, especially among parents who have one or two children strapped into car seats and want to avoid the extra hassle of getting the kids in and out of the car to pick up a bottle of wine.
One of Heid's favorite things about the new store has nothing to do with chardonnay or six-packs. Pointing to the large, east-facing picture windows in the front of the store and the dramatic views of the Steamboat Ski Area he boasts, "You want a ski report? Just give me a call anytime. Heavenly Daze was corduroy this morning."
For ski reports, or jokes, contact Heid at 879-5929.
South Side Liquor is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205
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