Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Sorry for taking so long in between posts... We've been super busy.
Some highlights from the last 11 days:

Starbucks backed out of providing coffee service to a Diabetes walkathon at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in early October. We have a meeting Monday with the event organizer to become their new coffee service provider. As it turns out, they also need a photographer for about 85 group photos, as well as some candids/event photography. I will be providing those services as well. I love it when we have the chance to meet a need that Starbucks has agreed to do, then bailed...

We are continuing to grow our 'regular customers'. We are having new people in daily that comment on how much better our coffee is than anywhere else in town. That is encouraging...
We are still not capturing the morning commuters. Most of our day business is from people in the surrounding buildings. We have considered hiring cute, energetic girls to stand out by Pikes Peak during the morning rush hour and wave signs advertising $1 coffee and $2 lattes. No, there is no profit in that, but we want to get some rush hour drivers to know we are here and try our product. Once they have tried it, and noticed that our prices are cheaper than Starbucks, then we'll have 'em hooked for good.

My Photography group is really coming together. I have been named an assistant group leader. I don't have time to devote to it right now, but I am looking forward to when I do... We have gone from monthly meetings to a meeting every one or two weeks. We have one tomorrow, which will be a Still Life workshop. It will be a hands on, cameras out, firing away photo session to experiment with depth of field and lighting for still lifes. We have also discussed going to two meetings a week to accommodate the group size. We limit an individual event to 25 or so, but the group membership has grown to almost 60 people. We have some really great people, and lots of photographers are also making friends and business acquaintances out of the group. The meetings are supposed to run from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, but I've had people here until 11:00pm or later the last several meetings!

I know this isn't all that exciting to you, but Tracy and I both got new shoes today! Tracy wanted to get some shoes that will help her to be on her feet for 12-14 hours a day. She found some great shoes for a whopping $165! I decided to go the athletic route instead of the 'work' shoes route and got some Solomon hiking shoes (low cut, not over the ankle). They are super comfortable, are all leather, and provide great support. I think these will last much longer than cross trainers or trail running shoes... We have not had an income for awhile, so we have bought absolutely nothing for months and months. If you have gotten to the point where nothing is exciting anymore and you don't appreciate the little things in life, then I suggest you go six months without spending ANY money, except for absolute necessities like house payment, food, gas for the car, etc. Once you have done that, then buying a new pair of shoes becomes very exciting, and much appreciated. In the past, I have always picked out two or three pairs that I like the way they look, try them on, and buy a pair. Today, I wanted to make sure that I spent money wisely and get something that will work well and last a long time. I tried on over 20 pair of shoes!! I took two hours to narrow it down to the Solomons, or a pair of New Balance trail running shoes. I went with the Solomon hikers because of the leather construction and they have better arch supports in them...

Updated prayer list:
Andrew Harris - he is here from Ohio for medical treatment. He came in today and asked if we had anything healthy for $2. He came here for specialized medical treatment and the airline lost his luggage, including his cell phone and his wallet. He looks like he is healthy enough to be playing football for a college team, but apparently has a medical issue that he does not expect to survive. It is such a contradiction to see someone young and visually healthy, who is suffering from something that may take his life.

Bobbi's mom - Bobbi is one of our best 'regulars', and is also someone we knew from a church we attended together back in 1997. Her mom has been hospitalized with MS, and is not doing well.

Jo Renda - my little sister had shoulder surgery last week and is recovering...

Sharla - a woman from our church, who is also interested in buying our rental house. She was diagnosed with breast cancer on Friday. We wish her well with whatever treatment her doctor chooses...

Aubrey and George, my brother and neighbor who are both serving their third tours in Iraq. Please pray for all of our troops, everywhere. I've been there, done that, and I know from personal experience that they could use our prayers, no matter where they are stationed or what they are doing on a daily basis.

James, our nephew. After some rough teenage years, James has been out of trouble and attending college, studying pre-med, working at Starbucks, and just doing really well in life. He met up with an old friend from back in his 'trouble' days and has followed him down the wrong path... James was recently arrested driving a stolen car, plus apparently had some drug paraphernalia on him, and is in more trouble than he cares for right now. There are consequences in life to poor choices, and I am not asking you to pray for his troubles to go away. I'm asking you to pray for him to learn to make better choices in life, and that he can turn this around before he gets in trouble that will take his whole life away from him.

There are many more people out there, friends and family, as well as total strangers, who need prayers. Take a look around your own life and find someone you can pray for... They are there, all over the place.

Gotta run,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick Update

Wow, no time for blogging lately...

We seem to have stalled out in growth at approx $550 per day, with our record day at just over $700. Graphing our daily sales over a number of weeks shows that we have plateaued...
Our plan has been to grow on word of mouth, then advertise when we go flat on the growth curve. We have 18,000 daytime workers in a one mile radius of us. We are going to have several thousand fliers printed and we are going to start hitting parking lots in the area, as well as office lobbies with the fliers. We are going to start with all the buildings closest to us, then spread out over time.
We are still going to hold off on the paid advertising via print media, due to the high cost. It is unbelievable how much it costs to put an ad in the paper or on radio! I am also going to take photos of the shop, along with some graphic arts and create a multimedia presentation that can be saved to disk. I want to keep it short, maybe two minutes, and pass out the CD's to some of the largest office buildings around here. we have also developed a customer database of about 1000 email addresses (we collect email addresses via an entry form for a free half pound of coffee that we give away in a drawing every Friday). I can send the presentation out via email to all of our customers who have participated in our drawings, and ask them to forward it to others in their company/department/school/etc... It has been over 100 degrees for the last week or so. Would it motivate you to get a photograph of an iced caramel swirl latte via email??? WooHoo!!

We are very pleased, though, with where we are. It is stressful to be working so hard and not be able to pay ourselves anything, but at the same time, $550 per day in revenue as an average after only three months in business without advertising is quite impressive.

I received my business cards for the photography side of things. They came out really nice and lots of them have been going out the door with customers. I did a senior portrait session on Monday, a portrait session for a couple on Tuesday, leased the studio to another photographer on Thursday, and I invoiced for event photography this week for a previous event. That is $470 invoiced this week (does not include the senior portraits, as we still have outdoor sessions to complete) for the photo ops. As I build this business, it will help our overall bottom line.

A number of friends have said they want to have family portraits done once I get the photography studio up and running. Well, as of Monday July 16, it is set up and operational! If you are reading this and were one of those people, give me a call to schedule an appointment. The studio number is 719-635-2946.

In the meantime, I also made significant progress on the rental house. I got the front yard landscaping under control, pulling enough weeds to fill five huge contractor lawn and garden bags packed tightly. I also purchased new PVC picket fence sections, although I am not going to install them until later so they don't get broken by the punk teenagers in the area. I also finished hanging all the drywall and brought in some help with the taping/mudding the seams (thanks so much Ted!). I tore up 500 sq ft of carpet in the basement living room and one bedroom. I pulled up the heavy duty pad and scraped the concrete floor clean of adhesive, and am almost finished pulling up the tacky strip and the base trim. I picked up the wood flooring from Lumber Liquidators and have it staged at the house.
Next steps are to paint downstairs, install the wood flooring in the living room and one bedroom, and install tile flooring in the new bathroom, and paint in there. Then I can install the new vanity, toilet and linen closet. I also cut down some 25 foot tall trees that grew behind my wood shop. They were about 6" in diameter trunks. One tree top did not fall in the direction of my wedge because it got snagged on a branch from an adjacent tree. It slowly started falling in the direction of the city utility power line going to the meter for the shop. I ran towards the shop, jumped - pushing off the shop wall with my feet, and grabbed the top portion of the tree which was falling and was at about a 45 degree angle, slowly headed for the power line. My plan was to pull it out away from the shop, free it from the snagged branch, and let it fall where I wanted. I pushed off the shop wall so hard that my force, along with the weight of the top of the tree, snapped the remaining part of the trunk that was attached. Instead of my hanging by the tree, I shot straight back away from the shop at about 8 feet in the air. I landed flat on my back, knocked the wind out of myself, and then took a shot to the abdomen from the top of the tree that fell on me. Good thing I'm in good shape... I was back to work in about two minutes, but I had some sore shoulders for a few days, along with an abrasion and a huge bruise on my rib cage from the tree trunk that landed on me. I wish I had it on video... I bet it looked really cool (or stupid, maybe). I used to do crazy stuff all the time, but not so much anymore. I know it sounds weird, but I actually liked bouncing off the ground, knocking the wind out of myself, and sporting a big ole bruise (proudly). I know 42 year olds shouldn't enjoy that or think that way, but I thought it was pretty cool... I no longer live life on the edge like I did for so many years... Anyone who knows me will understand and know exactly what I am talking about.

Well, I have to run. I have burritos to finish, and a few shop closing items to do. Then I have to head home and finish packing. We are going camping outside Woodland Park tomorrow morning. It is only one night in a tent, but it will give Josh, Jonah, and Ethan a little bit of adventure... We haven't had many adventures this summer since we opened the shop...

Take care, and God Bless!

"...but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, good character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

In other words, God says for us to enjoy our difficulties, because it makes us stronger in character via perseverance, and gives us hope for better days. This hope is resolved through the Holy Spirit, which dwells within us and gives us God's strength to endure...

Extra credit for anyone who can tell me where this is in the bible!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Somebody Else Cleaned the Bathrooms!!

Wow, after three months of operations, someone besides me or Tracy cleaned the bathrooms!! I have bathroom cleaning on the closing duty roster, which is a set list of cleaning/maintenance items set to a timeline for closing shifts. Everyone of our employees to date has skipped over the bathroom cleaning and done other items on the list. They are all hard workers and valuable assets, but apparently, none of them like to clean bathrooms. Friday night, though, Robert came to me and asked where the cleaning materials for the bathrooms were stored! WooHoo!! I think Robert is going to work out just fine here at Nemo's!

We set a new record for sales this week, and it is our first time to go over $3000 in sales for a week (Mon-Sat). We actually were 115% of what we need to be profitable, based upon our current budget without rent included. WooHoo again!
We start paying reduced rent in September, so our growth between now and then will go to rent...

We had Jeff Caylor play in the shop again tonight. We had a really great time listening and we really appreciate them coming out. We had a packed house for them tonight (although it doesn't take too much to pack our house). I had wanted to set up some studio lights and get some cool shots of them tonight, but I didn't have time. Here are a few snapshots, though:
Click on an image to see a larger version:
Jeff Caylor, LIVE! (to my family and friends in Indiana, if he looks like a Hoosier, it's because he is! He was born at Community Hospital in Anderson).

Tomorrow, we are going to church, I am working on the rental house, and we are going to see the Transformers movie...
Everybody have a great weekend...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Our first new hire, round two

I'd like to say we cleared the $800 mark today, to continue the trend set the last couple of days, but, alas, it was not meant to be. We actually dropped back to a more typical $555 range for today. That's OK, though... We are on pace for a record week! We also will be open from 5:00pm to 10:00pm Saturday night for live music, which is not normally the case. I would expect to clear the $3000 sales mark in one week, which we have not done yet to date...

We started this endeavor with five employees, and we have lost two of them, Dion and Nikki. We have had a number of quality people express interest in working for us (and some not-so-quality people). We hired Robert yesterday, and tomorrow night will be his first orientation shift. He was recommended to us by our friend Paul at the Raven's Nest Coffee Shop during our initial hiring. He had just found another job when we started doing interviews, so we never actually met him. He came in recently to have a double shot of espresso and to hang out and read. We spoke with him for a few minutes and found out that he used to work for Daz Bog, a coffee shop up on North Academy. He had such a great personality, along with prior coffee shop experience, so we asked him if he would like to fill out an application (we had no idea he was the individual Paul had recommended four months ago). He was interested in picking up some hours part time, so it's a done deal!

Don't forget, Jeff Caylor will be here live Saturday night!! Woo Hoo, can't wait!

The Colorado Springs photography meetup group was here last night with about 20 people. The leader of the group did not show up, and no one knew how to get in touch with him. I was unable to spearhead the meeting because I had to work the coffee house side of things. Another member, Deanna, and I coordinated a contact list and put together an agenda of proposed topics for future meetings, as well as proposed photography shoot ideas. I told them that as soon as I get out from under this rental house I will be able to step up as a co-leader of the group in case the organizer (Kelly) can't make it. There are some really great people in the group and I'd love to help solidify the group and make it a long term success! Some left around 9:00pm, but I had about six people stay until 11:00pm. I was in the kitchen making 30 breakfast burritos, but I could hear them laughing and having a great time. They decided to meet twice a month, instead of once a month.

As for the rental house, Tracy and I decided to go ahead and advertise it for sale at a discount. The two major projects that had to be done, that would affect appraisal value, are completed enough to start advertising the house. We want to get it on the market before school starts... If anyone wants a 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 3 car garage home for $152,000 ($25,000 less than market value), just give me a call! It still needs some paint, carpet, and some other TLC, but that is why it is being offered under value. $5k of materials and some effort will gain you $25k in equity!

We are taking the boys to see the Transformers movie with Michelle (one of our employees) this weekend. I've heard it is a really fun show...

Gotta run,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Well, it took a little while, but we finally broke through the elusive $600 mark! Today is the first day we have ever had more than $600 in sales in a day! WooHoo!
The magic number was $616.32 on 133 sales! We had two bible study groups here tonight and that drove our evening sales, along with Intellitec night students who have started coming in regularly...
Also, it took us 35 days to surpass $10,000 in revenues, but it only took 22 days to get from $10k to $20k. I'd love to keep working it until we are achieving 10K in a week instead of three...

Tomorrow should be another good day. I have a photography group of 25 using the studio tomorrow night from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. The key to continuing growth is to build our evening customer counts.

Our bank account has been maintaining a steady value for the past several weeks. I track our daily sales, vs. a 'rough' break even budget in spreadsheet. I know that we have been at the break even point for several weeks, based upon our current situation of not paying rent (free rent negotiated for 7 months, and extended by the electrical service upgrade deal with the property owners). I'd like to see sales continue to build so that we will still be breaking even when we do start paying rent. It is nice to not be shelling out money to cover operations, but we still have a huge challenge in front of us to maintain or get back to the break even point once our higher budget takes effect regarding rent. It would also be nice to pay ourselves... Our personal bank account is suffering, and I really want to avoid drawing on our capital budget for personal income. Getting this rental house remodeled and sold will contribute to our capital budget, but the amount of work to be done is wearing on me. These are tough days... Keep us in your prayers, or wish us luck, whichever route you prefer (we believe in the prayers 100%, and not so much in the luck concept).

By the way, I believe in the bartering trade system, but we don't take goats. If you have a professional service to offer, or just some really cool stuff, let us know. If you have livestock, go to Starbucks instead, or a cafe' in Jakarta...

Here are some table tent cards I made for our live music Saturday:

If you are local, be sure to stop in. He is bringing the whole band this time! Heck, even if you are not local, come on in anyway... Jeff was born at St Johns hospital in Anderson, Indiana! That is my home town, but different hospital than me. He graduated from Anderson University and then moved to Colorado Springs. How cool is that to meet someone from my hometown????

Check out his site at: http://www.jeffcaylor.com/
If you like to re-mix songs, he has uploaded two of his songs, as multi track files, that can be re-mixed. He also has some fresh commentary on toothpaste and kitty litter, not to mention all kinds of other odd random stuff.

We have been B-U-S-Y!! The shop obviously keeps us hoppin', and I've continued work on the rental house.
I had to wait on sheetrock for the shower walls due to the fact that the existing shower shut off valves were leaking. The inside of the wall was rotten and moldy. I fixed all of that, then tore into the plumbing. For some utterly ridiculous reason, the previous owners ran the water lines to the shower and washing machine in 1/2" CPVC (chemical resistant PVC). You should never apply pipe dope to plastic threads, but use Teflon tape instead. Those idiots used pipe thread compound on the CPVC to brass transition for the valve body. I was able to get the hot water valve disconnected without any problems (very, very, carefully), but the cold water line shattered due to the plastic being brittle from the compound. I had to run off to Home Depot and get parts to replace it. Unfortunately, CPVC is not a common use item in residential construction, and Home Depot had a limited amount of CPVC pipe and fittings. They didn't have ANY 1/2" pipe, so I had to buy a stick of 3/4". That meant the existing plumbing layout would no longer work, with regard to where the HOT/COLD valve body sits in the wall. I had to cut back the 1/2" CPVC even further, do a Frankenstein transition from 1/2 to 3/4 and back to 1/2 and get the dimensions correct for the wall layout. It also included silver soldering new transition pieces to the plastic/brass coupling. In all, I did 29 CPVC fitting glue joints, and four soldered connections, once again with no leaks! I shoulda been a plumber, except I don't have any butt crack to share with the unsuspecting world! I weighed 170lbs when I started construction on the coffee shop last Winter. I weighed myself the other day and I was at 149lbs! I bought some new cargo shorts and pants from Old Navy with a gift card I received for my birthday and the 29" fit the best. I haven't been able to wear 29's since I was about 25 years old! I bought 30's, instead, though, just in case I eat too many cream cheese danishes at the shop!

OK, back to reality... I framed a new closet in one of the downstairs bedrooms and sheetrocked it. I am now in the process of doing the mud and tape on the sheetrock for this closet, and in the bathroom. I can honestly say I am horrible at this... No natural talent there...

I also started painting the downstairs bedroom, and I ordered hardwood flooring for the downstairs living room and one other bedroom (typically gets used as an office or for storage). If you have never checked out www.lumberliquidators.com, you should do so! I got engineered floating laminate for 78 cents a square foot. I would have chosen a higher quality for my own house, for for a house I'm going to sell, this will work great. It was marked down from $2.79 a square foot, so it is comparable to Pergo laminate...

I have schedule my first senior portrait photo session! We are going to do the formal studio shots on Monday July 16. We will also be doing an outdoor shoot after my portable power supply for my studio lights gets here towards the end of July. This girl has participated in the mock trial program for the last three years and will again her senior year. She has gone to state all three years, and she will be attending law school after she graduates. She received an invitation from Harvard last week! The local trial competitions were held at the Pioneers Museum, which has an entire court room from the late 1800's on one floor of the museum. We are currently working with the museum to get permission to do a photo session in the antique court room. I'm hoping they will let us...

I also have a photo shoot lined up for the Dale Street Cafe. They want about 20 professional shots of their outside facade, inside shots, staff, and product shots. I have also lined up my first studio lease, for the end of July. There are no other photography studios available to other photographers in Colorado Springs. I also have the studio reserved for the Colorado Springs Christian Photographers Guild next week. People are starting to find out about us and things are coming to life!!

If it seems like I am rambling, it is because I am very tired. I'm going to try to get to bed by midnight tonight...
Gotta run,
God Bless Everybody!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Recent happenings...

I haven't had time to blog lately, but here are a few highlights from the last week or so...

Here is a shot of Josh sporting a Canon 20D with 70-200 f4.0L lens at the zoo:

Josh and Jonah both took some great shots!

The local paper (the Gazette) did a write up on our coffee shop Friday! This was a complete surprise to us! The Gazette has a newsprint magazine called Go! magazine that is inserted in the Friday edition. It has all of the weekend entertainment items in it like what bands are playing, what plays/shows are at the Pikes Peak Center, restaurant reviews, movie info, etc... At some point in time, the person who writes restaurant reviews for the Gazette came in and checked us out, without telling us. She wrote a great review and it was in GO on Friday!

Jeff Caylor played live in our shop on Friday night. He is a great musician and we really enjoyed listening to him. He will be back again on July 14th...

We lost the second of our original five employees this weekend. Her husband came back from Iraq and is having difficulties with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Please pray for them, and for all of our soldiers/military personnel returning home. Many will have trouble with their experiences, and it will be a very difficult transition for many families... Please pray for the troops who are still there, or will be deploying soon. They need our prayers, thoughts, and good will.

We set a new record for total sales last week! It would be nice to continue that this week, but I know it won't happen with the 4th of July coming up. Holidays kill our business...

We recharged our espresso machine water softener on Saturday at the end of the day. When Tracy opened the store this morning, she had saltwater coming out of the espresso machine. She called me at home at 6:30am and I came to the shop and removed the water softener, then flushed the espresso machine brew heads (x3), steam wands (x2) and the hot water port for two hours to clear out all of the salt. What a bunch of craziness... Tracy found out about the problem when our first espresso drink customer about choked when he took his first sip... Bummer... All is fixed and working now, but I am going to purchase and install a water filtration system for the espresso machine and not reinstall the softener/conditioner system that came with it. It is necessary for facilities using well water, or very hard water, but that is not us...

Update on the rental house: I finished framing the new walls in the downstairs bathroom to separate it from the utility room. I started installing sheetrock, and will be trying to wrap that up tonight and tomorrow. Then comes texture and paint, floor tile, sink & vanity, toilet, base trim, and shower stall tile. Still much to do... Once that room is complete, I can move on to framing closets for the downstairs bedrooms. The previous owners finished the basement on the 'budget plan'. They put metal bars along one wall, held up by bare 2x4's. It looks crummy, but it was functional, which is all they were going for. An appraiser will not consider those three rooms as bedrooms unless they have a formal closet. Even though the square footage is there, the appraised value of the house will not be as high without those officially being called closets.
It has been difficult to make significant progress there due to having the kids, coffee shop needs, etc. Our neighbor Angie is going to watch the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00am to 4:00pm so I can work on the house! Thanks Angie!

I would also like to thank Vange and Tim who are covering shifts at the shop due to Nikki's departure without giving notice. Vange worked with Tracy at Starbucks and also manages/runs the cafe/restaurant in our church. Tim our brother-in-law worked at Starbucks once upon a time (10 years ago or so). He is now a school teacher and is out for the summer. He is going to help us fill some empty shifts as well. We can't say enough to thank the two of you for helping us out in a crunch!

Well, lots to do, and not enough time to do it all. Gotta run!
Take care,

PS - Reminder to pray for Nikki and her family, as well as our troops!