Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Records Today!

We set new records for highest daily sales at $588.42 and four days straight with over 100 customers. I thought sure we would go over $600 for the first time, but it didn't happen. Intellitec set up a tent and brought in a BBQ and had their students invite their families to hang out with them for dinner. They typically come down and spend about $40 a night, right before we close. That would have put us over the hump, but it just wasn't meant to be...

I believe we are going to close for the 4th of July. All of the area businesses are closed, and there will be no one here. The biggest fireworks display in the city is at Memorial Park, which is two blocks down the street. I think I will come over and open from about 6:00pm to 9:30 or so and see what happens. If nothing else, we will be able to watch the fireworks out our front window!

Gotta head over to the rental house and work there until 1:00 am or so...
Everybody have a good night, and don't forget to stop by tomorrow to see Jeff Caylor live!


Air Conditioning

I can't remember if I mentioned it or not, but we have had a horrible time with temperature control. First of all, our HVAC contractor deleted the supply air in the back room, and the supply and return air in the bar area. Those areas have drywall ceilings instead of ceiling grid, per health code. Our contractor did not feel like climbing up on top of the ceiling to work, so they skipped those items. We have a very large commercial refrigerator and a commercial freezer, along with a cooktop and a convection oven in the back room. With zero air flow, it would get over 90 degrees back there with all of the heat generating components.

Secondly, we have three roof top units for our space. One is fairly new, but two are over 15 years old and seize up all of the time (pretty much daily).

The solutions:
I had our HVAC contractor come back and install an AC supply in the backroom, and an AC supply over the bar area. Both areas are open to the cafe, so no returns were necessary. It has made a huge difference!

After having an AC technician here everyday and sometimes twice a day for a week, our property manager has decided to replace two of our RTU's! They will be installed tomorrow morning! Woo Hoo! No more working in the absurd heat!

Gotta run,

Directions to Nemo's

For those of you who need to know...

We are located at the intersection of Pikes Peak Ave and Printers Parkway, just a couple of blocks east of Memorial Park.

Here is a mapquest map:

And here is an aerial view:

Don't forget... Jeff Caylor is playing here tomorrow night!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Nautilus Photography

I have received an overwhelming number of inquiries about my photography studio. People have seen my portrait and wedding work and want to schedule appointments. Tracy and I had planned to wait until Nemo's is stabilized, but we need to move on the photography work, as it is Senior Portrait season!
I threw together a quick business card and ordered them just now. I used a photo from my friends' wedding (I did their wedding photography). This was just a quick 10 minute effort in Photoshop. I'll do better cards later, but just wanted to have something to distribute now...

I haven't slept nearly enough in the last several days, so I'm going to bed. It is only 11:30pm! That is awesome! I will be able to get 7 hour so sleep tonight!

We had some severe weather here tonight and the news/radio reported tornado sightings at Bijou and Union, and also at Platte and Circle. Bijou and Union is one block to the north west of us, and Circle and Platte is two blocks to the north east. I don't know if there were two tornadoes, or if different witnesses saw the same funnel cloud and gave different locations for it. Either way, it was very, very close to the shop. I was kind of hoping it would take out the rental house so I wouldn't have to finish the remodel or go through the efforts of selling it... Isn't insurance great? NOT! State Farm would have figured out a way to stick it to us, and we would wind up with no house, no equity, and would probably still have to pay off the loan. Oh well,

Good night!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Digital editing time lapse

A great deal of my 'photography' talents are my ability to use Photoshop well. I take a lot of pride in what I've learned over the years (self taught).
I saw this video of a time lapse creation of a realistic portrait in Photoshop. Take a look if you have seven minutes to kill and want to be mesmerized!

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Well, I have to admit, our life is pretty much hoppin' right now. There are times in my life when I thought I was busy... I would love to be that 'busy' again, even if for just a couple of days!
We did find some time for some fun lately. We taught the 4 year old class for Sunday school at church Saturday night. Sunday was my birthday and we had a nice day. We went to the movies with Josh, Jonah, and Ethan and saw Fantastic 4, went to dinner at the Olive Garden with Tracy's parents, then relaxed at home. I took the boys to the zoo Monday. Sooo... we are making time to have some quality time with the kids. That is essential, regardless of whatever else we are doing.

As for the rental house, I cut out the copper water lines in the downstairs bathroom (all the sheet rock has been removed). I fabricated new lines and installed them. I completed 29 (22 the other day and seven more today) solder joints on the copper and did not have a single leak! I'm very proud of that! The room was always a 'rough' finish before, and the ceiling was never sheet rocked. In the past, the electrical was stapled to the under side of the floor joists. I would not be able to sheet rock the ceiling as is. Today, I cut all of the lines, installed junction boxes up in the floor joists, drilled holes, and ran new electrical up there. I also moved the bathroom light switch from the utility side of the room to the bath side. That will allow me to put up a new wall between the furnace/hot water heater and the bathroom. I also added a couple of electrical outlets. The idiots before us 'grabbed' power from where ever... There are four different circuits supplying power to the light and electrical outlets in this bathroom. I know this is a no brainer, but I would encourage everyone to use a multimeter and voltage proximity tester prior to doing this kind of work. The people who don't are professional electricians (who lick their fingers and touch live 120v wires to see if they are live or not), and complete morons who kill themselves or burn their house down trying to do some simple electrical work. I fall somewhere in the middle. Since I use a meter, I have never been shocked, and I know enough about electrical work (including code requirements) to not burn the place down.

I am closing the store now (financial data is downloading from POS to our financial software right now). When I'm done here, I'm going to the rental house to begin framing the new wall and the shower stall. What is more fun than shooting a framing nail gun??? I can't think of too many things.

As for the shop, it has been a good two day start. Yesterday was over $500 and over 100 customers, and today set new records with $580.62 in sales and 137 customers. Both data points are new highs! Woo Hoo!

What's that?? You ask when we sleep?? Oh, we don't do that...
I'll try getting some sleep in August when the house is done.

Gotta run.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Another Long Day...

I got to bed at about 1:00am last night, up at 7:00am. Did some laundry and loaded the dish washer... Got the kids breakfast and ready for VBS and dropped them off at the church at 9:00. I then went to the shop and traded the car for my truck (and helped out in the shop for a little while) I then went to Home Depot and bought framing lumber and a new shower door. I dropped those supplies off at the rental house and turned on the sprinkler system in the back. I then went back to the church and picked up the kids, and dropped them off at the shop. I went back to the rental house and tore out the downstairs bathroom. That included disconnecting the water lines to the toilet and sink, removing those fixtures, and tearing all the drywall off the walls. I'm down to bare studs, so I can now rough in the plumbing and electrical for my remodel. Once that is complete, I'll start framing the new shower enclosure, as well as a new wall that will separate the bathroom from the utility room (laundry, hot water heater, furnace).

I also measured the downstairs rooms (Bedroom 1, bedroom 2, bedroom 3, living room) for carpet, although Lumber Liquidators has engineered hardwood flooring on sale for 78 cents a square foot. Home Depot charges $6.03 per yard for carpet install, plus $3.95 per sq yard for pad, and approx $7.00 per sq yard for the carpet. That works out to about $1.90 per sq ft for carpet and installation. I'm leaning towards doing the entire downstairs with the engineered wood flooring instead, as it is about 40% of the cost of carpet.

I then went home at 3:15 to shower, and got to the shop at 4:00pm. I worked until close at 8:00pm, then finished closing duties, along with the financials at about 9:00. I then built some spreadsheets and organized 8 weeks worth of credit sales receipts, store close reports, and merchant services settlement reports. That took a long time, but it is all organized now!

It's 12:40am, so I'm more than ready to head home and get some sleep before the boys come and get me at 6:30 or 7:00.

As for sales today, we finally slid behind last weeks performance a little (keep in mind, Intellitec is on Summer break this week - 1000 people gone...). Our Mon-Thur performance this week is $67 less than last week's Mon-Thur sales. All things considered, I think that is pretty good! We keep seeing new customers come in and either say they didn't know we were here, or said someone had told them about us and came to check us out. Growth is good, unless you are talking about warts or something.

Gotta go home and go to bed...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gift Certificates Available!

I've been meaning to complete the artwork for our gift cards for quite awhile now. We bought 500 custom printed credit card style gift cards when we set up our merchant services. I never did finish the artwork and send it to them. We had a customer today who really wanted a gift certificate. Our POS system is set up to sell and redeem gift certificates, regardless of where they come from. I asked Tricia if she had a few minutes and I would whip one up in Photoshop. I did a quick design, based on our business card artwork. I had it done in about 4 minutes and we sold our first gift certificate to Tricia for $25!! Here is what they look like. (don't print it and try to spend it --- they are serialized and in a log at time of sale):
Click to see it bigger:

We are still on pace with last week, even with Intellitec out for summer break. We did $6 more this Mon-Wed than we did last Mon-Wed, which was our record sales week. We had really strong days last Thursday and Friday, so I expect us to have weaker sales this week. Who knows, people might just surprise us!

Rental House Project:
Today I cut out the copper portion of the sprinkler system. I cut and 'fit-up' the new pieces/couplings/elbows, etc and soldered them into place. The main shut off valve for the sprinkler system leaks by the seat, so I had to stuff a couple of pieces of white bread into the pipe to plug it up. After you get done soldering, you blow the torch on the part of the pipe where the bread is. The bread burns up and flushes out when you turn the water on! It worked like a charm and I got the system rebuilt and turned on without any leaks!

I also finished painting the garage door. I had to quit at 3:30 to come to the shop. It is now 9:30pm and I'll be heading back to the rental house after I finish closing to start painting one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Good night to all, and to all a fresh cup of coffee!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Let the Games Begin!

I officially started work on the rental house today. It is going to be alot of work, but I love doing this kind of stuff. I moved all of my construction tools over there yesterday and organized them today. I then spent some time taking photographs of any damage or dirty areas, to include in my security deposit report to the vacating tenants. The big issues are:
-Brand new carpet completely trashed and needs replaced in one bedroom
-Brand new carpet not cleaned or vacuumed in master bedroom. Will try to steam clean.
-Oven/stove filthy
-They tried to apply a polyurethane finish to the hardwood floors to cover some scratches they made. They did a horrible job, and missed spots. They also applied the poly over some drink spills, and sloshed it all over the new white base moldings, and on the bottom of the doors. This is going to take some time to fix. I will have to sand down the entire wood floor (800 sq ft) and refinish them, as well as repaint the doors and the base trim.
-Sod replacement in the back yard (approx 1000 sq ft). They had a requirement in the lease to keep their dog in an enclosed area of mulch in the backyard. They did not do that and the dog urine killed large areas of the new sod that was thick and plush and green.
-Tenants let weeds overtake the mulch area. It looks like a jungle and will take a great deal of effort to fix (approx 800 sq ft)
-Tenants did not water the lawn yet this year, resulting in dry, brown sod. I should be able to save it with frequent watering now.

I have a clause in my lease that requires the tenants to care for the lawn and that dead lawn/weeds will be charged for repairing.

Lots of other dirty areas, but not worth going into...

I also wire brushed the garage door to remove loose paint, masked the windows, and got about 2/3 of it painted. I also went to Home Depot and bought 5 gal of exterior paint, 5 gal of interior paint, a framing nailer, and some Round Up weed stuff. I also turned on the sprinkler system today, and noted that the copper line outside the house had ruptured because the tenants did not drain it last winter (I checked on it in mid-October and took care of it, but it had already frozen once or twice during some early cold nights). I'll be cutting that out and silver soldering in a new line tomorrow...

You may wonder why I am mentioning the rental house it this blog... Because the rental house represents Nemo's Coffee operating capital! I am going to do the clean up and repairs to the house, then sell it. Since we lived in the house for 2 of the last 5 years, there will be no capital gains taxes due. We should be able to fix it, sell it 10% below market value (for a quick sale), and come out with approx $25k to put into Nemo's account. This is important since we were $30,000 over budget on construction!

Gotta run.

Intellitec Summer Break

Intellitec has two vocational colleges close to us. Their automotive college is in the same storefront mall as us. Their AutoCAD, HVAC, and IT/Networking campus, as well as their headquarters, is right across the street. In all, it is 45,000 sq ft of space, and approximately 1000 people. They are off this week for summer break. Tracy and I were wondering how it would affect our business. We have quite a few Intellitec regulars, and they have not been in... So far, we have $40 more sales for Mon-Tue combined than last week, which was a record week for us. That means word-of-mouth growth is making up for the Intellitec absence, and then a little bit more. We'll see how that holds up through the end of the week...


Friday, June 15, 2007

Basic Tri-fold Menu Flyer

Here is our basic flyer, including a simplified menu:
Click on it to see a larger version....

Jeff Caylor will be playing here one week from tonight! It is listed in the newspaper Go! magazine, which is the weekly entertainment guide that comes out on Fridays. I'm hoping to get lots of people here Friday!

New Records this week...

Well, another week is almost behind us. We have set some new records this week, which is very exciting for us! We set new records for the most customers in a day (125), most sales in a day ($575), and we've had over 100 customers a day for 4 out of 5 days this week. We have already exceeded last weeks sales figures (which was a new record last week) and we still have Saturday's sales to go! Thanks again to all of the people out there who are coming to our shop and supporting us!

We had a lady come in and say she came down from Denver because she heard about how good our coffee is! She is a state legislator, and she heard from another state legislator about us. That's our tax dollars at work... state legislators driving around the state to get coffee!! LOL I would like to have the entire Colorado Senate and House come down here for coffee. I'll pay my taxes all day long if they want great coffee from us!

I stayed up until 1:00 or 2:00 am pretty much every night this week working on the RMCC Camp photos and video. I got the photos edited (several examples are posted below) and I ordered the 90 5x7 images of the group photo. I made a 24 minute long DVD movie set to music to show the photos in a dynamic way. I'll post it at and send a link so you can watch it, if desired. I delivered the DVD and photos today and the project is 100% complete! Woo Hoo, I get to sleep tonight.

We had a new customer come in today (he reminded me of a younger Ty Pennington). He is a personal trainer (so is his wife) at World Gym, but he also has a side business doing web design. As it turns out, we need a web site, and he needs a professional photographer. They need photos of their clients, to use as before and after shots along with the client's testimonials for their advertising. He also needs photos for his website design at times. We were discussing prices/rates/costs, and we finally decided to just trade services. Soooooo..... we should have a web site up soon!

Our air conditioning went out today and it was 85 degrees inside the cafe when I got back from dropping off the DVD and photos. It was even hotter in the back room and behind the bar. This is the second time in a month the AC has been out. Our property manager had a repair tech here within 30 minutes and all is good again. Originally, it was in our lease that we are responsible for all maintenance, repairs, and replacement on the RTU's (roof top units - heat and AC). We refused to sign the lease like that and had the owner take all maintenance and replacement responsibility. It has saved us a lot of money twice already. I wonder how many people sign commercial leases without really reading it, or without counter offering on some items?? Our lease was 29 pages, and we had changes made to almost every single page. If you don't look out for yourself, who will??? Definitely not your property manager...

Well, gotta run.
Take care,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New edit of the Aspen trees, with approaching storm.
Which do you like better (original version in next blog entry).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shots from today...

Here are a few shots from a photo shoot I did today at Camp Elim, just outside Woodland Park, Colorado...
It is a week long church camp that my church puts on for 3rd-6th graders. I always go up for a day to do a large group photo. Each child gets a 5x7 to take home at the end of the week. I spend several hours walking around and photographing the kids doing their activities. Some are candids, shot from a distance and the kids really 'ham it up' in others... I typically take about 500 photos while there, and I narrow that down to about a hundred images to use in a DVD movie set to music. Each child gets one of those, too. These are a few of my favorites from today:

Here are a couple of the shots as it came out of camera, and as presented after Photoshop work:

Monday, June 11, 2007

Photography Studio

I know the intro talks about starting a Coffee Shop and a Photo Studio. We have been so consumed with running the coffee shop that the studio has fallen by the wayside. That is OK, though... It has been our plan to get the shop running efficiently, then start concentrating on the studio marketing. Well, I have been getting lots of inquiries about doing portrait work, product photography (especially jewelry), and renting the studio out to other photographers. Some want to use it for a studio, and others want me to install a projector and screen so they can use it as a session viewing room. They are professional photographers who work out of their home (meaning they do on-site photography like weddings and other events, on location photo sessions, etc). They have grown to the point that they want a professional location to do session reviews and take orders for prints in a setting other than their living room. I have also been asked by 5 different individuals or groups to teach a Photoshop class. These are all professional photographers who want to learn more about digital work flow and image preparation for print.

As a result, I am going to begin setting up the studio with my equipment. We are not ready to do so, with regard to progress on the Coffee Shop. But... if the demand is there, why ignore it?

I am also in a bind with regard to one of our rental houses. I have had renters in it for 2 1/2 years, and the lease has converted over to month-by-month. They wanted to stay for another two years minimum, but we have to sell the house before January to avoid capital gains taxes. If we go past January, then it will not make any sense to sell if for at least 10 years after that. We could really use the equity in it as operating capital for Nemo's. To make a long story short, we found a potential buyer, and that spooked our renters. They gave notice to be out by June 15th. The potential buyers found something that works better for them. That leaves me with an empty rental house that needs some work, and we do not have an income right now! I am going to advertise it for sale at $20,000 less than the assessed value. I have put together a project list for it, and it needs about $6000 invested it it (along with my own labor) to get it into great shape. That includes these major points:

Demo shower/bath tub in upstairs bathroom and replace.
Complete downstairs bathroom demo and reinstall.
Refinish hardwood floors upstairs.
Paint and reinstall 24 custom cabinet doors in the kitchen.
Paint the outside gutters and trim.
Fix the white poly-vinyl picket fence (neighborhood kids have broken it in a number of places)
Needs paint in most rooms inside.

There are some other odds and ends, but that list captures most of the issues. I'm going to start doing the work myself, and the $20,000 discount will go down as I finish projects. Optimally, I'd like to find someone to buy it at $20,000 under value. They can put $6000 and some labor into it and have $14,000 equity instantly. ANYBODY WANT TO FLIP A HOUSE IN COLORADO SPRINGS???? CALL ME!

Time for bed...

New Record!

Woo Hoo!! We had 125 customers today, which is a new record! We also posted sales of $500, which is not a record, but is a strong showing for only being open for six weeks. I'd love to see this growth continue, as we are not yet self-sustaining...

I only had 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night, and it looks like I'm going to get 6 1/2 tonight. I need to go to bed, as tomorrow will be a busy day. I need to get the boys up, drop them off at Angie's, then drive to Camp Elim outside of Woodland Park. I'm doing event photography for our church's summer camp. I've been doing this for three or four years. I provide them with about 100 5x7 photos by Friday, plus create a DVD set to music that includes a slide show of the still photos, along with some video as well. I need to have that done by Thursday so the church tape ministry can make 100+ copies of it. I made all of the copies the first couple of years... Yikes, what a huge job that was! I'm glad the church is able to do it...

Gotta run, but wanted to leave a post about our new customer count record!

Make Time to Remember

We all have busy lives. Tracy and I are working 70-90 hours a week, plus spending time with our kids, plus teaching Sunday School, plus managing two rental houses, plus being friends and neighbors and family to the people around us...
I watched this clip and couldn't just let if go at that. I don't have time to do this right now, but it was too important not to. Please 'find' 5 minutes and take a look at this short video, and remember someone...

God Bless,

Jeff Caylor

I'm very excited to say that Jeff Caylor will be playing in the shop on June 29th (Friday) and again on July 14th (Saturday)!! He will be our first live music here at Nemo's. I met him at the Walk for Life in Memorial Park. His band was playing at the event. He gave me a copy of his CD for review, and I must say, we have really enjoyed it. One of the local radio stations will be playing his first single release (Pain is a Megaphone) starting on Tuesday.
He came by the shop with his friend Leora Saturday to check things out. Tracy and I had a great time talking with them. As it turns out, Jeff and I were both born and raised in Anderson, Indiana! Can the world get any smaller? What are the chances of that?
Anyway, please come by the shop Friday night, June 29 or Saturday night, July 14 to hear Jeff play. He is a starving artist right now, but he'll be famous by the end of the month after his song starts airplay Tuesday...

Tracy and I spent the day at the Pikes Peak Center for an art festival. Our main objective was to re-connect with the leaders of the Imagination Celebration and the Colorado Springs Conservatory. They are both organizations that promote art and music for youth. Tracy worked with them when she was the Community Development Lead Manager for Southern Colorado when she was with Starbucks. One of our passions is to support and promote local artists through Nemo's. We spoke with the ladies from the Imagination Celebration about hosting an art exhibition in August, displaying children's art. We are looking forward to doing this, and other events that encourage children to explore their creativity and nurture it into a part of their character. Even if they don't grow up to be artists, people who know how to think creatively are better problem solvers in any field of work. I have experienced this first hand over the years.

We were disappointed that we missed Linda from the Colorado Springs Conservatory. She started a music school to give children (prodigies) additional music instruction, since it has been all but cut from the public school system. She not only teaches the kids music theory and practice, but also about being successful in the music business. How many incredible musicians have you met in your life who had to give all their pay back to the venue to cover their bar tab? What about incredible musicians who couldn't keep a band together because they were all "A" type personalities who wanted creative control? Who knows how many incredible musicians are out there who never made it because they didn't know how to manage themselves and their careers. We are looking forward to meeting up with Linda and scheduling some of her bands to play here... We'll keep you posted...

I met a guy today named Dan Bedell who is an amazing photographer. He is local to Colorado Springs, and I spoke with him about doing a show here at Nemo's. I can't post any examples of his work here because I do not have permission to do so. You can see his work at:

I met another guy named Ken who designs and makes really beautiful jewelry. He needs professional studio shots of his jewelry, as they are one of a kind pieces. He is going to come by the shop so I can show him examples of my work, and discuss pricing. We also talked about having him in on a Saturday to display his work for sale. We would like to carry it all the time, but we do not have a means to keep it locked up, but still visible for sale. Instead, we are just going to have him in for a 'showing', along with Jeanne, who makes incredible glass bead jewelry that will boggle your mind!

We also stuck Nemo's stickers all over downtown, which is only 1.5 miles from our shop. I especially enjoyed putting the stickers all over Starbucks door frames, outside cafe railings, inside their bathroom, etc.

I made some new items for sale for breakfast tomorrow. I used 8 oz deli cups with lids and used vanilla yogurt, bear naked granola, and fresh cut strawberries and seedless grapes for several cups. I did another with the yogurt and granola, and topped it off with dried tropical fruits, including papaya, pineapple, apricot, banana, craisins, cashews, etc... I also did some fresh fruit cups with strawberries, red seedless grapes, and Red Delicious apple slices. I'm hoping the apples won't be all brown in the morning. It is 1:10 am now, so breakfast isn't all that far away. I also cooked eggs, sausage, and potatoes, and made 20 breakfast burritos. Now I am very tired and want to go home and go to bed.

God Bless everybody!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A few photos from today...

Click on any image to see it larger:

Becoming a tiger...

Jonah took this shot:

Three boys cooperating (as much as can be expected)

Three boys not cooperating, and ruining a cool photo oportunity!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thanks to the Raven's Nest!

Our growth outpaced our supplies and we ran out of espresso this week! I want to thank Paul and Heather at the Raven's Nest Coffee shop for providing us with an emergency supply of espresso! It is hard to run a coffee shop without coffee and we really appreciate your support!

Mark from the Dogtooth coffee shop called today and needed caramel, coconut syrup, and praline syrup. We were able to hook them up... We have also provided product to the cafe at Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel, and we have received product from them (thanks Vange!). We believe in supporting our local coffee shops as opposed to only seeing them as competion.

Today was our fifth day in a row with sales over $400 (this has been a new record daily). Today was the first time we have had over 100 customers a day for two days in a row! Woo Hoo!

Gotta run...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

New Milestones, prayer list

In our first 5 1/2 weeks of operation, we have sold 4520 items!
The big sellers are:
#1 - Espresso Drinks (which is good, since we are a coffee shop!)
#2 - Lunch items (sandwiches, salads, etc)
#3 - Smoothies!
#4 - Brewed Coffee
#5 - Pastries
#6 - Bottled Beverages (only need to sell 3150 more for the cooler to pay for itself)

We went over 2300 total customers and over $10,000 in sales today!! We posted our third day in a row with sales over $400, which is a new record. We sold out of breakfast burritos, sandwiches, and salads again today. I track our growth from week to week. We are currently at 50% of last weeks entire sales, after just Monday and Tuesday! I expect this week's sales to set a new record if this keeps up.

Our growth is out-pacing our supplies! We almost ran out of coffee last week, and we ordered more, in even larger quantities. Unbelievably, we are dangerously low on coffee again, and it is only Tuesday! We made another, even larger order and it will be here Thursday. I honestly don't believe we have enough espresso to last until then. We may have to contact a local roaster to get some espresso. Our favorite is Crowfoot Valley in Castle Rock, about a 45 minute drive towards Denver. Paul and Heather use Crowfoot in their shop (the Raven's Nest on Boulder and Institute). Our second choice would be CCM (Colorado Coffee Merchants on Fillmore). Eric is a firefighter who operates a coffee roasting business and small shop in his spare time. He is an amazingly nice guy!

I considered installing a projector and screen in the studio so that business meetings will be able to do Powerpoint presentations, etc. Well, the County Health Department used the room for a five hour meeting yesterday and they brought their own projector. It is a good thing the walls are painted flat white in there!
We have had several other groups use the room, and we have about five more events scheduled.

The local leader of a Republican political group and his wife, who is a state legislator, came by the other day and checked out our meeting room. They are planning some recurring events and intend to reserve the room for those events!

The Colorado Springs photography meetup group is having their first meeting here at the shop tomorrow night! I'm looking forward to that one, although I will be in and out, since I will be working the shop as well. Ryan asked me to put together a class on Photoshop. He would like to attend, along with his Dad and several friends. His Dad (who Tracy and I have known longer than Ryan) is an amazing photographer. His work has been done on large format film cameras, and he is fairly new to digital.

I also got the art rails installed and Paul Kulik has displayed his amazing work throughout the coffee shop! I'll post some photos soon...

It is fun to see continuing sales growth, both in $ amounts and in # of customers per day. We are also seeing a constant rise in our per person ticket average. It started out in the low $3 range, and is now tracking at $4.43 for all time. Our ticket average for the last week is $4.60 per ticket. The increased ticket averages are due to larger parties coming in for lunch, as well as Tracy adding some amazing salads to the menu that sell for $7.95.

I can't count the number of times new customers have actually called us on the phone after returning to work or home to tell us we have the best coffee they have ever had. We hear numerous times a day how much better we are than Starbucks (not a difficult achievement these days, I'm sorry to say).

We really didn't like the La Marzocco Swift grinder (that tamps the espresso grounds in the portafilter automatically). We didn't like having that level of control taken away from the barista. We ordered a new Mazzer grinder and it arrived today. We brought our Mazzer from home to use for decaf. It is very satisfying to make a drink using manual techniques, then have customers walk back inside from the parking lot to tell us how good it is (after they had already left the store). So many coffee shops are going with push button super-automatic espresso machines, and they are giving up the art of being a barista. They are also having problems with their employees asking "if you want fries with that".

Gotta run... it is 10:00 pm, I still have some dishes to wash and have to get up at 6:00 tomorrow.

Everybody have a great night...

I decided I should go ahead and publish my prayer list here. So many people come in, order a drink, and proceed to tell us the biggest problems in their lives. That is normal for a bar tender or barista, but I have been telling people that I will pray for them. Christians just smile and say thanks, with that knowing look of gratitude. Non-Cristians get this amazed look on their face. I figure they are reaching out for some kind of help if they are willing to tell their biggest problems to someone they have known for all of 30 seconds. The good part comes when they come back into the store a few days later. When I ask them how their "fill in the blank" problem is and tell them I've been praying for them, they get this 'dumb-founded' look on their face. I think they are surprised that I remember who they are, what their problem was, and are amazed that I actually have been praying for them. I've seen some of the biggest smiles ever after that kind of a conversation. Sometimes their problems are better, sometimes not, but they leave knowing that a total stranger actually cares about them. Here are the people I am praying for now... feel free to join in:

Larry's sister in Chicago - she had a blood infection, fell into a coma, and was not expected to live. Larry flew out to Chicago to say his last goodbyes. After he returned to Colorado, she came out of her coma, got up, and is doing fine now. He expected to be going back for a funeral soon instead!

Stacey and Tierny - Tierny is Stacey's toddler who has some medical problems, and a deficient immune system. Stacey often goes without sleep because she is up all night with Tierny, who does not sleep well. She has good days and bad...

The lady with narcolepsy - I don't remember her name, but she can't work due to her narcolepsy and severe sleep apnea. Go ahead and pray, God will know who you mean.

Roni - one of our regular customers from the very start, currently has pneumonia.

Donald, suffered a brain injury and is now disabled. He goes around telling everybody that his problems are his own fault, not somebody elses (was drunk and walked out into the street and got hit by a car). He says God saved his life and gave him another chance. He isn't quite right upstairs, but he knows God loves him and tells everyone that he can...

Nichole - her husband returned from another tour in Iraq and is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and is getting a medical discharge from the Army because of it. His difficulties with his Iraq experiences are making things tough for him and their family. Please pray for them, and all of our troops, for their safety and well being, and especially for my brother Aubrey and my neighbor George. They are both currently in their third tour of duty in Iraq.

Julie - husband left her with a toddler and a newborn baby... Her house is in foreclosure because her husband is not helping with any financial issues, nor paying any support for the kids...

There are more, but I really have to finish my work and get home. Just pray for us, our employees, and our customers and God will sort it all out!

Don't forget to do something nice for someone, every day... It will bless your life far more than the recipients of your good deeds! If you don't believe me, just go ahead and try it.

Friday, June 1, 2007

May 2007, our first full month

Well, May is in the books. It has been a very fun time, if not life consuming! Tracy and I have worked as hard as we ever have in our lives this month. We know that is what is necessary and we are willing to do so...
Our sales for May were $8200, which I think is great for a fledgling business that has not advertised. We are going to continue on the word of mouth plan for now. We'll sink some money into advertising once we are no longer seeing growth. Today, the first day of June, was our second highest daily sales total! Very cool...

I checked on prices to have some "vinyl cut lettering on corplas" signs made. The quotes were $25 to $50 per sign, for just small ones (real estate sign size). I have Adobe Illustrator, which is the vector based program used to create artwork for the vinyl cutters. I looked at vinyl cutters and they range in price from $400 to $2000 for a small unit (that will cut 30" wide vinyl roll material). For the cost of 15 or 20 signs, I can buy my own machine and do our own signs for next to nothing. Tracy's mom owns five Curves franchises and needs signs and banners from time to time. I think I will speak with her about splitting the cost of a machine and do our own sign work. I just paid $420 for two 10' x 3' banners. I could have made them myself for less than $100!

Tracy just called to let me know the hot water heater at home just leaked all over the downstairs floor and sounds like it is shot. Gotta run...