For FoCo

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Fort Collins is in this together.

The pandemic has brought serious challenges to Fort Collins, but it’s also proved that we live in an exceptional community that rises up to help one another. At For FoCo, we want to highlight the resilience of our community and how we’re building back stronger.

Curious to learn more about the City's pandemic recovery efforts and the newly adopted Resilient Recovery Plan? Learn more here.

Fort Collins is in this together.

The pandemic has brought serious challenges to Fort Collins, but it’s also proved that we live in an exceptional community that rises up to help one another. At For FoCo, we want to highlight the resilience of our community and how we’re building back stronger.

Curious to learn more about the City's pandemic recovery efforts and the newly adopted Resilient Recovery Plan? Learn more here.

  • Business Stories: Joe's Auto Upholstery

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    Interview with Richard Cienfuegos Owner of Joe’s Auto Upholstery. Be sure to follow Joe’s Auto Upholstery on Facebook.

    Editor’s Note: The phrasing and word choice in this interview have been edited for clarity but maintain meaning.

    What is the story behind Joe’s Auto Upholstery?

    My dad, Joe Cienfuegos, was a prisoner of war. [He was asked] what profession he wanted when he got out of the war camp, [and he said] auto-body work or upholstery. He was sent to San Francisco and took up auto body painting and leading in cars, but it was really toxic, so he decided to come back to Fort Collins. He applied again through the VA (Veterans Affairs Department), and they gave him a grant to begin training under Bill Hawley, who had an upholstery shop at 247 Linden St.  Within one year, my dad was ready to buy the business because he was making more than the owner of the shop. [One day] dad had a chance to buy the shop and he bought it, and that’s where it’s been for seventy years. 

    Who was Joe?

    My dad’s name was Constancio, but all his friends called him Joe because they couldn’t pronounce his real name. So, he put up the signs as Joe’s Auto Upholstery, and it’s been that way for seventy years. 

    He was born in Cusihuiriachi, Chihuahua, Mexico. Pancho Villa was really active at that time, and one day, one of Pancho Villa’s men came to the little farm where my dad lived with his family. He asked them, “who do you pledge allegiance to?” Of course, they said Pancho Villa; it was one of Pancho Villa’s men. They said “There’s nothing we won’t do for Pancho Villa. Whatever he wants, we’ll help.” But the men went back to camp that night and told Pancho Villa, “there was nothing they will do for you,” instead of nothing they won’t do for you. So Pancho Villa said, “go back in the morning, kill everybody, take anything that’s of value, and bring it back to our camp.” My dad ‘s neighbor was there, and [in the middle of the night] he rode to their ranch and said “Pancho Villa is coming in the morning to kill you, you’d better leave,” so that’s how my dad and his family ended up in El Paso, Texas.

    From there, Grandma saw a sign at the railroad station that said they needed laborers to work the beet fields, and they got free transportation from El Paso, Texas to Fort Collins, Colorado. My dad was three years old at the time and had four brothers and sisters. 

    What are some of your childhood memories of Joe’s Auto Upholstery and living in Fort Collins?

    My dad was a sharp businessman. He’d give people prices and then he would test them when they come back. My dad would say, “what price did I give you,” and they’d say, “oh Joe, I don’t remember.” Dad would price it higher than what he had originally said, and they’d say, “no Joe, you told me it was this price.” Dad would say, “you knew the answer, then.” He tested them time after time, and some people would give him the correct price right away, and other people would try to get a lesser price. I don’t why he did it, but he did it to almost every customer. I write my prices.

    I started working with dad when I was around eight years old because I decided picking beans for two cents a pound wasn’t a money maker.  We’d pick cherries in Loveland and in Waverly out here for fifty-one cents per flat. You don’t make any money doing that migrant work.  I never picked pickles and I never did beets; that’s hard labor. 

    My dad used to get paid eight dollars/acre for [the whole] season. He had to block the plants, weed them three times, and at the end of the season after the pulling machine pulled the beats up, they had to top the beats. They didn’t get paid until the season was over.  The whole family working there, everybody got into the beet fields. Everyone had to work. They traveled from here to Wyoming to Scottsbluff Nebraska and they worked all the beets around here that they could.  

    We lived in “The Colonia,” [which] was a smaller neighborhood over here that the Great Western Sugar Company had for the laborers. Eventually, the people start buying houses and that’s where we bought our first house was down in the Colonia.  A lot of good people lived there. They were mostly migrant workers, all Latinos.  

    At that time, the city was small, and everybody knew everybody. We looked forward to coming to town. The theaters were 15 cents, and there were double features back then with a cartoon and a news reel. Dad used to give us a quarter and we would buy a candy bar before the first feature and then at intermission we’d go and buy another candy bar; so, we used to get two candy bars and a movie for a quarter. There was the lyric theater, the trail, the state, there were some good theaters here. [We would do that] almost every Saturday. Me and my older brother Joe would go to the theater and my folks would do the grocery shopping on Saturday afternoons.

    The only thing I remember [that happened to my dad] was that we were going to buy a house, and one of [dad’s] customers was a realtor. He said, “Come on, I’ll show you some houses.” So, Dad got in the car with him, and they went up and down Cherry street and clear up to Shield street and then back down on Maple and then dad asked him, “what about some other houses on the other side over there by the university? I can buy almost any house.” At that time dad was making good money, but the realtor said, “Joe, we can’t show you any houses south of Mountain Avenue. All Hispanics will be on the north side of Mountain. That’s why Cherry Street, Maple, Loomis is all Latinos. They didn’t want Mexicans on that side of town. That’s the only thing I really remember. 

    We moved to Wood Street, and they were building new houses down in the six-hundred-block of Wood Street. Dad was working on the contractor’s truck and said, “we like those houses down there.” The guy came out and said, “Joe we won’t sell to you because you’re Mexican.”

    How would you like the community to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

    By recognizing the contribution that the Hispanic community brought and is bringing to the area. Hard working people that come to prosper and that the only thing they are looking for is a better life.

    Why do you think it’s important for our community to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

    The Hispanic community is among the hardest working people and the finest craftsman and the contribution over the years has been fundamental in the foundation of this country.

    Do you feel like there’s a special communication among businesses and business owners? 

    We all get along great. Now, some families don’t get along with other families, but as businesspeople we all get along really well.  We refer people to other customers you know, and other customers to other businesses; it works out really well. The people I know, I favor. I’ll recommend some people, but I’ll also warn against others. There are people that have gotten rich by cheating people, and I’d rather stay away from that type.  

  • Business Stories: The Blue Moose Art Gallery

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    Be sure to follow the Blue Moose Art Gallery on Facebook & Instagram.

    Owners: Deb Groesser, Julie Grillo, Judi Mitchell, Ruth Hand, Vicki McCargar, Cher Schmidt, Liz Williams, Cecilia Fuller, Stephen Huth, Beatrice Rudolph, Alesa Locklear, Lisa Hawks, Marge Corcoran, Judi Sevel, Judy Scherpelz, Michelle Rudolph, Rhea Ferranti, Joan Carol, Tanya Horacek, and JoAnn Hovland

    “We’re not your typical art gallery – we have fun!”

    What do you think makes our Fort Collins business community so special?

    It takes a dream, grit, passion, and determination to open and successfully operate a small business. There are a million moving parts that are constantly on the owners’ mind. Fort Collins small business owners are a hardy bunch who start up unique and diverse businesses, think creatively, listen to their customers, join the Chamber, and possess a dogged determination to not only succeed, but to thrive.

    What advice would you give to community members who are looking for ways to support our local businesses?

    Always have the mindset to Shop Local. In 2020, the number of small businesses in the U.S. reached 31.7 million, making up nearly all (99.9 percent) U.S. businesses. Small businesses employ 58.9 million people, which makes up 47.5% of the country’s total employee workforce.

    As of June 2017, there were 8,500 small businesses in Fort Collins. That seriously outweighs the 40 or so large and chain businesses in town. Set yourself apart by being creative in your shopping choices to find unique products and service providers. Check out the Chamber of Commerce web site to seek out small businesses in your area.

    The Blue Moose Art Gallery offers a variety of classes and workshops, check the class schedule.

    What’s one thing that would surprise people about your business?

    Actually, there are four things: 1. After only four years in business, we won “Best Art Gallery, NOCO 2020,” and are nominated in three categories in 2021 – Best Art Gallery, Best Gift Store, and Best Local Artist. 2. We’re the only art gallery in Fort Collins that offers over 15 adult art classes in a variety of mediums every month. 3. We’re comprised of 21 owners who come from all walks of life and share management of the gallery. Our ownership model is unique in that our owners are not employees, but volunteers. 4. We promote students in a variety of ways including inviting student artists to display their art in the gallery at no cost, partner with local high schools for fundraisers, and hold student art shows to benefit their art program.

    What do you love most about running a business in Fort Collins?

    Greeting our customers who call The Moose their “happy place.” New and returning customers walk through our door and are marveled by the size and beauty of the gallery. They flock to our classes that are taught by our professional artists. We laugh and share stories together, and it’s fun to see smiling faces at our events (in early June we had baby goats, a food truck, live music in the parking lot, and many families stopped by to shop and to cuddle a goat).

    Do you have any special events, promotions, and products upcoming you would like to share with the community?

    The Blue Moose is known for our fun and creative events that we host throughout the year. Upcoming are our Featured Artists events where several artists conduct live demos, plus live music, door prizes, and light refreshments. The upcoming dates are November 27th, and December 4th, 11th, and 18th. Check our events page for all the details.

    Every month we have a different Guessing Jar where folks guess the number of items in the jar. The winning number wins either a gallery gift certificate, or a special prize donated by one of our artists.

    There’s always something new at the gallery. With over 85 Colorado artists and a 2,500 square foot gallery, we’re displaying new art every week.

    How has the pandemic and challenges of the last year changed the way you do business?

    The Blue Moose opened in 2016 and was beginning to enjoy a respectable financial trajectory when the pandemic hit. It took determination and creativity to pivot the current brick-and-mortar model into a digital model. The owners rallied to identify ideas to stay afloat, e.g., created an online sales site, developed virtual and on-demand classes, sold online gift certificates with an altruistic twist, offered curbside pickup, overhauled our website, personally called customers, received an SBA loan, refreshed the gallery, started throwing parking lot parties, and increased our communications to maintain a presence. We’re continuously implementing new marketing ideas, new classes, and hosting fun events to keep our customers returning to their “Happy Place!”

  • Business Stories: Louise Cutler Fine Art Studio

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    Be sure to follow the Louise Cutler Fine Art Studio on Facebook and Instagram.

    Artist & Owner: Louise Cutler

    Louise Cutler is an artist of many mediums and styles. Her skills range from working in pastel, oil, acrylic, clay, gliding to mixed media. She considers herself a multimedia, multicultural artist. Louise loves to create people, faces, and the clothed human form.

    Louise’s work was recently selected to be in the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in London. Her work was selected out of thousands of art submitted globally. The exhibition runs from September 22, 2021 – January 2, 2022, in London.

    While her work continues to gain international attention, Louise is passionate about making Fort Collins a place for the arts – a community that values and fosters artists. Louise recently organized the annual the Beauty of Blackness Fine Art Show in September. The art show showcased some of the finest in Black and African American art, featuring national and international artists, helping to bring culturally rich art to Fort Collins. Louise is involved in other community events, including helping to organize 2022’s Juneteenth celebrations in Fort Collins.

    In addition to her own work, Louise offers private art lessons.

  • Business Stories: Pit Liquor Deodorant

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    Be sure to follow Pit Liquor on Facebook & Instagram.

    Co-owners & Co-Founders: Erica & Jason Feucht

    Pit Liquor started when Erica & Jason Feucht were expecting their daughter. They were concerned about the carcinogens in traditional deodorants, so in response Erica & Jason developed their own all-natural deodorant using an alcohol base and other natural ingredients. The motto of Pit Liquor Deodorant is that they don’t mess around with toxic ingredients, wasteful packaging, or products that don’t work. They only use ingredients that are safe enough to eat.

    Pit Liquor Deodorant is manufactured, bottled, and shipped out in Fort Collins to customers all around the country. The company offers spray-on and roll-on versions of their deodorant and offers a variety of flavors including, Whiskey Vanilla, Coconut Rum with Lime, Whiskey Lavender, and many others. Pit Liquor is also dedicated to sustainable business practices, implementing a recycling and refill bottle program.

    In 2021, Pit Liquor won the 2021 Colorado Companies to Watch Award, recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in Colorado. Pit Liquor Deodorant has been featured on the Today Show, ABC, Bustle, CW, CBS, Food & Wine, and NPR.

  • Business Stories: Jerry's Artarama Fort Collins

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    Be sure to follow Jerry’s Artarama Fort Collins on Facebook & Instagram.

    Owners: Steve and Beth Williams

    Jerry’s Artarama Fort Collins is family-owned and operated by the Williams family. The Williams have lived in Colorado their entire lives and are descendants of pioneers who homesteaded in Colorado.

    For over 21 years, Jerry’s Artarama has provided Fort Collins artists with a unique opportunity to find world class artist materials at reasonable prices. The art retailer sells an extensive selection of art supplies for novice artists to the professionals. Jerry’s Artarama is uniquely different from other arts and crafts stores as they strive to offer new and proprietary products to artists, art educators and all who appreciate creative materials.

    Be sure to visit Jerry’s Artarama located at 3524 S. Mason Street for all your crafting & gifting needs this holiday season!

  • Thriving Community: Support Local Businesses

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    This winter, take the pledge to support local and promote community recovery for what makes Fort Collins special! When you make even just one purchase from a local small business, you’re supporting your friends and neighbors.

    Keep our Fort Collins businesses in business this winter and connect to your community. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or doing some retail therapy, show you are #ForFortCollins! Ordering out? Many restaurants are still offering order pick up or delivery right from their website or through the local, independent meal delivery system, Nosh NoCo!

    Pledge to Support Local and receive a $25 NoCoNosh gift card.

    Pledge to support local for community recovery this winter by filling out the following pledge form to help us keep Fort Collins businesses in business!

    Once you’ve taken the pledge, you will have the opportunity to receive a $25 NoCoNosh gift card! Share your pledge and download an “I Pledge to Support Local” badge to post on your social media platforms.

    Take the Pledge

  • Resilient Community: Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Hosts Mental Health Exhibit

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    Learn more about the importance of mental health, and why it matters for everyone at the Mind Matters exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

    This thought-provoking and hopeful traveling exhibit, Mental Health: Mind Matters, will be in town through January 2, 2022. Explore hands-on experiences that help open the door to greater understanding, conversations and empathy toward the challenges of mental health. This family-friendly exhibit is presented in English, Spanish and French. Exhibit entry is included with general admission.

    Visit for more information.

  • Staff Chats: Claudia Menéndez, Equity Officer

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    For Hispanic Heritage Month, we spoke with the City's new Equity Officer, Claudia Menéndez, on the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month, how she celebrates and how Hispanic heritage is key to the history and legacy of Fort Collins.

    What does it mean to you to be a part of the Hispanic/Latinx community – in Fort Collins and in the world?

    CM: Being part of the Latino community in Fort Collins gives me a sense of pride and a sense of belonging. We are rich in cultural and linguistic diversity. We are white, brown to black and every tone in between. We offer musical beauty from salsa, bachata, merengue, cumbia, and reggaetón. Our culinary arts are exquisite and globally known from tortillas, to tamales, to ceviche, empanadas, pupusas, horchata, street tacos, to smothered burritos and so many region specific dishes.

    How do you typically celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

    CM: It is a time of reflection and appreciation of our heritage, our roots, and our families’ journeys. It is a time to be grateful for our past, our present, and the opportunities that help us plan for our future. I love seeing how different institutions and individuals take this time to shine and spotlight our contributions to our communities. Hispanic Heritage Month may come once a calendar year, but for us every day is a day to celebrate our heritage and be proud of where we come from and who we are.

    Why is it important for us to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Fort Collins?

    CM: We make up slightly more than 20% of Colorado’s population representing nations across the Americas, the Caribbean, Spain, and Equatorial Guinea. We are part of the fabric of this nation. We contribute greatly in a plethora of ways to the well-being of our communities. The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively.

    How is Hispanic heritage key to the history and legacy of Fort Collins?

    CM: Latinos have been present in Larimer County and Fort Collins since the late 1800’s. The homestead Act of 1862 and later the sugar beet plantations attracted numerous Hispanic and Mexican families to the area. We have a long history here. I’m very excited the our local organization Mujeres de Color has dedicated a monument honoring the Hispanic and Mexican beet workers. It’s located on Lemay and Vine at the Sugar Beet Park. It represents a history of hard work and contributions to the land and building of this community.

    What can Fort Collins do to better support and celebrate our Hispanic/Latinx community?

    CM: I see potential for increased collaboration between our city’s great institutions like PSD, CSU, Front Range and our many local nonprofit partners, businesses, and individuals to join forces and celebrate more visibly, to demonstrate our union and support. I'd love to see a festival that commemorates our diverse Hispanic and Latinx heritage with music, food and activities for our entire community to enjoy together. It’s the perfect time of year to gather and celebrate.

  • Business Stories: FoCo DoCo

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    Interview with Megan Barghols Owner of FoCo DoCo. Be sure to follow FoCo DoCo on Facebook & Instagram.

    Why do you think it’s important to have spaces in our community where people feel like family and people feel safe, regardless of identity?

    As a small business owner I am all about community! Community means all of us, and its important that there are places in Fort Collins where anyone can go where the staff/owners/customers look like them, respect them and welcome them. Can’t tell you how many parents of LGBTQ+ kids have thanked us for having pride flags year round so they know its a safe and welcoming place.

    Do you see your experience as a business owner and a member of the LGBTQ+ community as different from business owners who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community?

    Our experience has been that Fort Collins loves themselves some small businesses, regardless of the owners gender identity or sexual orientation.

    Can you tell us about how you got started making donuts?

    I spent 10 years in the pacific northwest and fell in love with all of the amazing coffee and donut shops up there. It’s built into the culture of the PNW. My family has been in Fort Collins a long time and whenever I visited I noticed a lack of small, local donut shops. Sometimes you need something more interesting than what the big chain donut shops are selling. It also so doesn’t hurt when that donut is served hot, freshly made right in front of you. We go out of our way to source ingredients locally, and try our best to spread the love around foco.

    How would you like Fort Collins to celebrate Pride Month?

    I would just like to remind everyone that anytime, not just pride month, it costs nothing to be kind.

    Why do you think it’s important for our community to celebrate Pride Month?

    It’s all about acceptance, visibility and making sure everyone knows they matter. We all deserve to get to be our authentic selves without worrying about being discriminated against. Pride is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate the progress we have made – while also acknowledging we still have work to do. We will always stand with our LGBTQ+ people and allies in the fight for equality.

    What is one thing you want the Fort Collins community to know about you as a business owner?

    I like that FoCo DoCo has the ability to have a positive impact on someones day, thats what it’s all about. I get to serve people tasty little donuts and coffee and see a lot of smiling faces everyday and I really hope everyone knows that joy is a two way transaction. All the love and support you’ve showed us in these first 3 years, we are going to continue to try to put right back out into the community.

    What’s your favorite donut flavor?

    Lemon Poppyseed reins supreme.

    What are some ways you’ve celebrated pride at FoCo DoCo?

    We have a special donut we do every year for pride, THE PRIDE DONUT! We also have year specific pride stickers we make that are different every year so people can collect them. This year we are actually in the middle of moving to our new location and didn’t get any events planned, but we do have something up our sleeves for Fort Collins official pride weekend next month in July.

    Do you feel like there’s a special connection among LGBTQ+ owned businesses and business owners?

    Yes, but there could be a lot more of us. And that’s another great reason for celebrating Pride, and featuring businesses like ours who are proudly queer owned and operated. Anybody out there who isnt sure if you can be an LGBTQ+ business owner in this community please look us up and look at us go! And definitely let us know if we can do anything to help you get going.

    Learn more about Fort Collins businesses and how to support them

  • Business Stories: Chipper's Lanes

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    Chipper’s Lanes is a local favorite in the region with two Fort Collins locations and others around Northern Colorado. The bowling alley offers more than just bowling, including a full-service restaurant, arcade, laser tag, and more!

    Did you know that you can also jam out to live music while bowling at Chipper’s Lanes? Live on the Lanes is presented in partnership with Mishawaka at the N. College Chipper’s location. The concert schedule can be found here:

    Chipper’s even offers exclusive deals to classroom learning pod groups. Their Chipper’s Learning Pods provides learning pod groups with a classroom space to work followed by bowling, laser tag, and pizza. More information can be found here:

    “The pandemic hit a lot of businesses hard and ours was no exception. However, the kindness we have seen from our community truly has been uplifting. We continue leading our teams to create the fun, clean, local entertainment that you and yours truly deserve for years to come. Visit us soon, we’ve missed you all, and above else, remember to play local!” – Matt Hoeven, Owner

    Be sure to follow Chipper’s Lanes on Facebook & Instagram.

    Learn more about Fort Collins businesses and how to support them

Page last updated: 20 May 2022, 02:06 PM