Traditionally, businesses have seen competitors as foes, not friends.
However, in Colorado Springs, I’ve learned the sense of community is so strong it outweighs any feuding — at least in some industries.
“I don’t say this one [groomer] is better because we are all good,” said Micah White, the owner of Okey Doggy Self Wash and Groom, LLC. “And I think there are enough dogs to go around for all of us.”
Likewise, Keith Altemose, the owner of Nano 108 Brewery, says he welcomes “all brewers to the marketplace.
“I want us all to help create more clientele and craft brewer connoisseurs and then share that clientele,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mike Bristol, the owner of Bristol Brewing Company, recently shrugged off a question I asked him about what sets his business apart from other craft breweries.
“We just think about what’s our vision and focus on that,” he said, adding that if all the beer makers are doing it right, there are plenty of customers to be had between locals and tourists.
In Old Colorado City, Sean and Sherri Van Dyke, the owners of Spark’s Five and Dime, focus on offering unique items instead of lower prices than neighboring souvenir shops.
“Having been a product developer for more than 25 years, this is my niche and our biggest thing is uniqueness,” Sean said. “We carry products that nobody else has seen or is carrying. That’s what separates us from every other gift shop.”
So what’s the benefit of all this collaboration? Perks can include access to mentors and someone who might eventually acquire your business.
“In business, it is never good to burn a bridge, mostly because you simply do not know what will happen with your company down the road,” entrepreneur Robert Tuchman wrote in a 2015 post for Entrepreneur.com. “Google, for example, is as successful as it is because it has enlisted the help of the industry’s smartest people, many of whom came from competing companies of various sizes.”
Working with competitors is also “good for the industry as a whole,” Tuchman wrote. “Sharing information with businesses in your same industry can help ensure that everyone is working toward similar business goals. If your industry as a whole looks good, so will your individual business.”
This summer, local craft breweries and food trucks are offering a passport which includes discounts or free items at all participating businesses.
On the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website, the Crafts & Drafts Passport is available for free.
Not only do the passports benefit the participating businesses, they aim to entice visitors to stay in the area longer. That, in turn, can generate more nights spent in local hotels and visits to other businesses.
While it’s not always easy to help or befriend someone you see as competition, it’s worth considering. It seems to be working for the Springs’ growing craft brewery and food truck scenes.