How much time do you spend at your local gas station? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? You probably spend just enough time to fill up the tank and grab a bag of chips, right?
You might be inclined to spend more time at your local gas station if you are passing through Gunnison – especially if you visit the Powerstop and Hammer at 905 North Main Street. Whether you plan to scarf down a peanut butter-bacon burger, drink a local craft brew, or peruse a colorful assortment of snowboards, you will want to budget more time when visiting this local gem.
Deven and Sean Bennett – the brotherly duo behind this unique operation – are progressively-minded entrepreneurs. They saw what most would have considered a vacant gas station, and turned it into a locally-centric establishment that caters to the college town demographic of Gunnison County. “We didn’t want to rely on the traditional fuel sales to make this happen,” Sean comments. “So we applied for a liquor license, put in a custom kitchen, and made our focus on working with the local community.”
Shortly after opening the Powerstop, the only local provider for snowboarding and skiing purchases closed shop in Crested Butte. The lightbulb to capitalize on this gap went off again. “There was a definite need to fill that niche in the valley,” Sean comments. Expanding into their adjoining space, the Bennetts created the Hammer, which was completely dedicated to offering the latest and greatest equipment for skiing and snowboard. The completion of this project finalized a holy trinity of the Rocky Mountain experience: locally-sourced food, microbrews, and high elevation sports.
If you couldn’t tell by now, the keyword for this establishment is “local”. Their coffee is roasted locally. Their beers are brewed locally. The vast majority of their inventory originates in a 60 square mile radius to their store. The Powerstop will even soon feature another Region 10 partnership: High Alpine Brewing. This unique business also hosts local musicians on a regular basis. “We’ve done a lot to provide a nightlife here in Gunnison,” Sean adds. The community has embraced this unique business because of its mission to support the local economy.
They’ve also used their business as a conduit for good deeds. The Bennetts realized that their neighbors – a pet supply store named Mountain Mutts – needed help adopting some kittens who they were fostering. Offering wine and cheese to their customers, the Hammer hosted an adoption event that inspired several patrons to bring home new furry friends. The event was hosted on Valentine’s Day, and helped attract female customers who probably could never fathom seeing themselves in a snowboard shop on a day usually dedicated to fancy wining and dining. “The event was scathingly brilliant,” comments Region 10’s Linda Riba.
The Bennett brothers reached a point where they wanted to take their business model to the next level. With the addition of the Hammer, there was a unique opportunity to expand its sales. However, cash flow was modest and financing options were limited.
Based on some feedback from their peers, the Bennetts were referred to Region 10’s Small Business Resource Center. They found the entire process to attain financing to be painless. “It was great,” Deven added. “Super straight forward.” With financing from Region 10 secured, the Bennets not only consolidated prior debt, but also gained the ability to hire more staff so that they can expand sales and services for the Hammer. In the next few months, the Bennetts are projecting to hire two full-time and two part-time staff – further demonstrating the brothers’ commitment to supporting their local economy.
What’s even more impressive about the Bennett brothers is their ability to see the big picture. They already have a strong vision for further expansion in the future. “Ideally, we would like to see five or six of these down the road,” comments Sean. “We developed a unique business concept that would thrive in other Colorado college towns – Durango, Grand Junction, Fort Collins.”