The only word that describes the success of this business is “Quest”. The owner, John Justice, says, “my wife and I have looked for a business to own and operate for the last 35 years.” Being a welder in the construction trades, he earned a good living, but it took him all over the country. John and his wife, Shelly, wanted something that would provide additional income in their retirement years. They wanted something they could do that they would enjoy, and would support them if they wanted to hop on the Harley and hit the road.
Many of the businesses they looked at didn’t fit those requirements, or they were just too risky. Then, they found Christie’s Liquor in Dinosaur, Colorado just a very short distance across the border from Vernal, UT.
The Justices came to the Vernal Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a bank referral, and met with Mark Holmes, Director of the Vernal SBDC. Holmes provided assistance with the business plan, financial projections and some marketing information. Oddly, that was the easy part. Holmes said, “A large portion of setting up a retail store is inventory, and banks don’t like to loan on inventory. The back and forth with the bank, and presenting the loan package to them was where the real work began.”
It’s a rare thing for an SBDC office to assist with starting a business outside of the state. Christie’s Liquor is the exception. Holmes added, “when the owner, and occasionally some employees live in Utah, and the bank that financed the business is also in Utah, we stand ready to serve.”
After nearly a year and a half of preparing, retooling, and negotiating, the Justice’s achieved their 35 year dream of business ownership. John says, “anybody looking to open their own business should do the research first and be patient. Find a good niche and get a mentor. Ours provided invaluable training.” Shelly and her son also took the Vernal SBDC’s NxLevel class which gave them a great foundation in business principles.
When asked what the best part of owning a business, John said “I don’t know if there is a “best” part yet. We are working like crazy and the hope is that we will have more free time as we hire and train good employees.”
The Utah SBDC congratulates the Justices on their success, especially during a regional economic downturn.