Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Businesses bet on Ketchum

Handful of entrepreneurs stake claims in city

Express Staff Writer

The Toughlove fitness studio, above, opened in Ketchum on April 1. Photo by Willy Cook

Sarah Mullendore, 30, has long been an employee but will soon become an employer, a first for the longtime Jackson, Wyo., resident moving to Ketchum to start a business—My House Furnishings.

"I never had a feeling when I drove to other places—Park City, Vail—that I could see myself living there," she said, adding that it was different when she drove into the Wood River Valley from the south, seeing Bellevue and Hailey before reaching the resort area. "This fits."

Mullendore is one of a handful of entrepreneurs betting on Ketchum, whether venturing out on their own for the first time or relocating.

Mullendore said her plan is to exploit the unfulfilled niche of furniture "for locals," meaning affordable. She's opening June 1 at 180 Second St. East.

"If there's a time to do it, it's now," she said, claiming the recession doesn't deter her or her new husband. "I don't have a mortgage. I don't have kids. This is the time."

In a few years, she may not be able to take the gamble.

Building an idea into a business is easier for Mullendore than others. She already has the money on hand to take the risk—an inheritance from her mother.

"She would've loved this store and been proud and excited," Mullendore said.


For entrepreneurs short on cash, startup loans from banks—the traditional source—are still hard to come by, according to the experience of Emily Doan McKenzie of 511 Salon.

She used to work at a neighboring nail salon in Ketchum's 511 Building but decided to strike out on her own after 10 years, opening her hair salon, 511 Salon, in the same building early this year so her customers could have more privacy.

"There's always that fear. You bet," she said, especially in light of the local economy that hasn't recovered, and because off-season slack will soon be settling in.

However, she has the advantage of retaining an existing clientele that's moving with her.

"I definitely have as much business as I need," she said.

While McKenzie is trying to improve her clients' experience, psychologist Tyler Lohrke moved 12 miles north from Hailey to Ketchum in March to attract new clientele.

"I live in Hailey but, for services, Ketchum is the place to be," he said. "You just notice that there's more energy on the streets up in Ketchum."

Lohrke's psychotherapy business, Integrity Wellness Group, has been in Hailey for 12 years.

Christy Giglio also plans to capitalize on Ketchum's activity, having opened fitness-training studio Toughlove on April 1 in the UPS building on East Avenue. She moved to the Wood River Valley from San Diego, where she previously had a fitness studio.

"I was tired of the rat race," said Giglio, who grew up here. "I wanted to go home."

Her sister, Meg Vorm, owns Cornerstone Bar & Grill with her husband, Erik.

Giglio is confident that her business—not requiring memberships but charging per "gravity" training session—will do well.

"If you have something that people value, you'll do fine," she said. "You've got to work your butt off, but I'm fine with that."

Trevon Milliard:

The Brick House closes

The Brick House restaurant on Main Street in Bellevue closed its doors Sunday after about a year in operation. "We do this with great reluctance, anguish and regret, but there is simply no alternative," co-owner Tom Nickel stated in a news release. "This tough economy has punished us." Nickel also owns the Roosevelt Tavern and the Sawtooth Club in Ketchum.

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