When Wendy and Jules Palyo opened Phippsburg's Flat Tops Ranch Supply last October, they certainly were expecting customers. What they didn't expect was the rubbernecking along Colorado Highway 131 as their store was being built.
"We almost caused a traffic jam the day we put the walls up," Jules said. "We thought we were going to have some accidents on our hands."
The Palyos came to Routt County eight years ago, leaving their Keenesburg hay farm in favor of buying Oak Creek-based Pack Country Outfitters. Their first Routt County business was a dream for a family that loves the wilderness and was eager to leave Colorado's eastern plains for the mountains.
"Coming up here was a no-brainer," Jules said. "We just love being on our horses."
They had always dreamed of opening a farm and feed store, and outfitting made it tough to spend time with their three kids during hunting season.
"It's hard to raise a family on a seasonal job," Wendy said.
The Palyos and their three children live at a ranch north of Oak Creek off Twentymile Road with their menagerie, including horses, cattle, sheep and ducks. The Palyo children are active in 4-H - their 12- and 13-year-old boys are raising their first steers this year.
"It's so good for the kids - it gives them a sense of responsibility," Wendy said.
Along with a few other South Routt families, the Palyos started gymkhana last summer in Toponas.
Despite being open for just more than six months, the Palyos and Flat Tops Ranch Supply are now serving customers from Clark to Toponas and even into Eagle County.
Wendy is thrilled for their first summer in Routt County and can't wait for tack to start flying off the shelves - and for the family to get back on their horses.