Alice passes on the Business Connection torch

Barbara Lawlor
Nederland

Alice Lemoine, owner of the Business Connection, sat on her blue ball in her office and greeted people who ducked through the glittering strands in the doorway.

It was Friday, March 31, 2017, her last day of work, the day before she retired. Alice and the Business Connection, as well as the Mountain Pages and Mountain Neighbor, all began about 25 years ago and its evolvement involves a piece of Nederland’s history and some of the people who were here at a pivotal time in its growth.

Many helping hands led to the formation of what is now an established, much needed service in town. The business will continue in the hands of Chelsey and Mike Havill, but Alice says it is time to for her to rest, something she hasn’t done much.

In 1992, Alice and Ken Lemoine came to Nederland after learning they couldn’t find jobs in Boulder. Not an unusual story, but how they solved the problem is.

“So we bought a business,” says Alice. Ken Horn owned the Mountain Body Shop on Stinky Gulch Road and was ready to leave. He helped the Lemoine’s finance the building, making the purchase possible. The Lemoines changed the body shop to mechanical repair, which was Ken’s specialty, and they also bought the local Mountain Auto Service Towing. They both now had jobs.

The couple did well. Alice did the accounting and learned the ins and outs of organizing and managing the business.

“And then I bought the Mountain Pages, the monthly advertising magazine,” says Alice. John Brook, Crackerjack, owned the local directory and was ready to stop publishing it. “I had never done anything like that before, but when he told me he was selling and asked me if I wanted to buy it, I said yes. It made no sense, I had no confidence, but I had kept the books for the auto shop, so I’d give it a try.”

Alice learned graphic design and selling with on-the-job training. After four years, she needed help and more space. When the Mountain-Ear Newspaper moved out of its space in the upper bay of the shopping center, she slipped in as the newspaper office moved to the former post office across from the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church.

In 2001, Alice closed down the auto shop, and concentrated on the publications. At that time, the Guercios owned the Mailboxes, Etc. shop in the shopping center, a place to make copies, get stamps and send Fed Ex packages. Six months after Alice moved in, Mailboxes closed down, leaving a gap in basic services for the businesses.

“Customers asked me to get a copy machine and other printing equipment. Basically, Business Connection started from pressure from the community. So, I got a small copy machine and some reams of paper.”

At this time, Ken Adler owned the Mountain Rental Center, which was located where Ace Hardware is. He had been handling UPS business and came to Alice saying he didn’t want to do it anymore, so UPS was added to the slowly growing office supply business. Alice says everything in the store was there by request from customers.

In 2004, when the Mountain-Ear Newspaper changed hands and moved to a residence on West Fourth Street, Alice moved into the vacated post office, remodeling the interior to suit an office supply business, putting in shelves and computer equipment and anything that was requested.

At this point, Alice felt she was where she should be, doing what was perfect for her. “This was my favorite thing I have ever done, learning graphic design. I had no formal training, no classes, I was doing it by the seat of my pants and it was a fun ride.”

For 17 years, Alice has walked from her Nederland home to the office. Over the years, she has hired help in running the store and the technology piece. It was a seven-day-a-week business and for the past few years, Alice began thinking, “I’m tired. The business has grown and I’m ready to stop and she delved into the idea of selling.”

For the past three years, Chelsey and Mike have demonstrated their dedication to the business and most of all, their loyalty and admiration of what she has accomplished. They have adeptly and painstakingly learned the myriad facets of operating The Business Connection, Mountain Pages and Mountain Neighbor and Alice offered them the opportunity to buy it all. They said yes.

Alice isn’t going anywhere. She still has an accounting client that will keep her busy and that comes with fringe benefits including frequent travel. She doesn’t see herself doing nothing.

“I love this community and connecting with its unique people. For the past 15 years, I have attended Calvary Chapel, a great church which does so much for so many people. I am honored and privileged to have a business in Nederland where you can live and work.”

Looking back over the years, Alice chuckles, saying that her business grew by vacuums formed as other businesses closed their doors and the community came to her to fill them.

She is grateful and happy that it all worked out the way it did. Now she is leaving for a working vacation in Copenhagen.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.