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John McAfee creates a posh HQ for "Sky Gypsies" in Rodeo, NM.

No Room at the Inn
Who closed the park gate on the Radium Springs Inn?

Love Potion #9
Meet 5 everyday folks making Las Crucens' lives easier.

Becoming a Legend
Learning to be a ranch woman.

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Getting your feet wet in the Gila River.

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No Butts About It!

Udder Delight makes pure goat-milk soaps and body-care products. Plus 575 cell-phone confusion, the Fountain's fate, fitter Las Crucens and more.

 

Kristine Epling followed her nose and wound up owning a successful business — Udder Delight, a handmade goat-milk products company in Glenwood.

"Every time I would walk into the Udder Delight soap shop, I was just in heaven because of all the wonderful smells," she recalls. "As I would leave the shop I would always say to myself, 'I would love to own this business!'"

Kristine Epling, owner of Udder Delight in Glenwood, shows off some of the gift baskets she creates, using her company's handmade goat milk products. (Photo by Donna Clayton Lawder)

Epling already was making natural soaps, creams and salves for her own use at home, finding that goat milk-based body products helped to heal her dry skin. She'd even concocted a comfrey salve for use on her injured horse.

Then, on one of her frequent shopping visits to the store, she made a happy observation. "One day when I went to Udder Delight to buy some soaps and lotions, I noticed a 'For Sale' sign outside. I asked the young girl who was working if the property was for sale or the business, and she said both. The next day I made an offer to buy the business, and in less than one week my offer was accepted and I finally owned the business of my dreams!"

Marcia Bothman, of Pearce, Ariz., who raised and showed milk goats, heard a presentation about using goat milk to make body-care products and started up Udder Delight in 1997. Epling, who holds a BS degree in interior design from the University of Arizona, worked in commercial interior design and architecture for 14 years before purchasing the growing business in June 2005.

Today, the cheerful — and, yes, pleasantly fragrant! — business operates a storefront at 5121 Hwy. 180, at the point where the roadway trickles down to two lanes through the little town of Glenwood.

Upon entering the store, shoppers are greeted by a long wooden shelved island, with hundreds of earthy-colored bars lined up, grouped by fragrance and function. Along the walls, cozy, old-fashioned cupboards hold clutches of bottles — shampoos, body lotions and more. And on a couple of scattered tables, groupings of gaily colored baskets, totes and handsome boxes suggest gift ideas — like the suncare group for the beach, complete with protective, soothing lotions and eye-mask, or the Tea Tree & Peppermint Foot Care Basket.

These are just suggestions, Epling points out, adding that she will create custom gift baskets for any occasion, including birthdays, baby showers, new mothers' baskets, weddings and anniversaries, even "stress relief" baskets. Gift baskets can be shrinkwrapped, packed in shipping peanuts and mailed almost anywhere.

Udder Delight produces more than three-dozen bar soaps alone, with "regular" soaps running $4.99 a bar and "specialty" bars — including a natural alternative "Grease Monkey" soap for mechanics, an "Emu Oatmeal" bar for sensitive skin and a "Pooch Shampoo" bar that repels ticks and fleas — for $5.99. There are also shampoo bars, men's shaving soaps, liquid shampoos and conditioners, hand and body lotions, hand and body creams, facial creams, baby creams — the marvelously named "Shiny Hiney" line — and a foot cream for dry, cracked feet.

 

When Epling first took over the business, she kept her own goats, milked them by hand twice each day, and used the milk in her products. "I used to have seven goats, but I have sold them and now use a full-cream powdered milk, which actually makes a better product," she says. Though she enjoyed the animals, letting go of her sweet-faced furry friends was a practical consideration on another level, too, she says: "Now I can take a vacation when I want to. Milking four to five goats twice a day, every day, can really tie you down!"

All of Udder Delight's dozens of products are made at the store in Glenwood. Just off the retail showroom, an old-fashioned swinging door gives customers a peek at the soap-making process. Huge shelving units hold rows and rows of bars of soap Epling has just created and cut. In the dry air and with a bit of sunshine streaming in through large windows, the bars are "curing."

"We do not purchase any pre-made bases and add a fragrance to it and call it our own," Epling says, citing a practice some so-called "homemade" soap manufacturers employ. "All of our products are made from scratch."

She thinks over her vast product line and comes up with a list of the current stand-outs. "Our Footsies Cream is our best-selling cream. We have a hard time keeping it in stock," she says. "It sometimes seems like just two to three days after we made a batch we have to make another batch."

Epling says the Midnight Cowboy soap is her best-selling bar, followed by Lavender Oatmeal and a Neem Shampoo Body Bar, which incorporates a traditional healing herb used in India.

The neem products make up Udder Delight's newest line. Epling says neem "is very healing for just about every chronic skin condition, plus also helps with pain and inflammation and arthritis." Her neem salve, she says, can be applied directly to the affected area to speed the healing process.

And that homemade horse salve Epling created — which can also be used on humans — has come into the Udder Delight fold and become another of the company's best sellers.

Epling estimates that about a third of her business is walk-in locals and tourists, a third comes from her Web site, and the remaining third is wholesale to several stores throughout the United States. Local outlets that sell her products include Desert Blossom Books and Aunt Judy's Attic in Silver City, and the Alma Store in, well, Alma, as well as Black Gold Emporium in Reserve, the Double E Guest Ranch Mercantile in Gila and Healthy Choices New Mexico in Carlsbad. She hopes to soon expand the business by opening a second retail store in "a tourist town," either in New Mexico or Arizona, and is trying to get Udder Delight products into natural health food stores nationwide.

And Epling says the satisfaction she gets from various aspects of the business — from putting out a high-quality product to being her own boss to meeting the public — convinces her that's she's found her niche. Best of all, she says, is "the wonderful feeling I get when a customer tells me how much they really love my products and tell me to never stop making it!"

 

Udder Delight, 5121 Hwy. 180, PO Box 268, Glenwood, NM. Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 539-2060, (877) 833-3740. www.udderdelight.com.

 

Your Call Is Very Important to Us...

That area code switch from 505 to 575 has caused some consternation for wireless phone companies and their New Mexico customers. Though your cell phone's internal info still says "505," the caller ID sees incoming local calls as area code "575," meaning your phone's address book doesn't recognize it. So unless you know the phone numbers of all your "faves" by heart, chances are good you've been left wondering "who?" When queried recently, a pleasant-voiced tech-support dude at Verizon Wireless, flipping through a stack of recent company memos on the subject, said, "Yes, that 505-575 switch is causing a lot of difficulties with carriers nationwide and people have a lot of questions. Thanks for being patient while I try to find an answer for you." The Web site for Sprint gives info on the change in area code forced by equipment damage from hurricane Katrina, but nothing about New Mexico's switch. And AllTel's customer service line advises that wireless phone MUST be reprogrammed with the new area code prior to Oct. 5, 2008, and warns that otherwise, the phone will no longer work and calls will not be connected. AllTel customers can visit the closest retail store to have phones reprogrammed. The bottom line is that the one-year grace period will allow calls to come through regardless of which area code is dialed. Verizon customers will be contacted by late summer 2008, the tech guy said, "and then we'll be able to tell you what to do to switch it over." Most likely, that will involve dialing "star-something-or-other" at which point the phones' internal memories will switch. In the meantime, customers can go into their phones' address books and manually change the numbers of their New Mexico contacts so that the phones' caller IDs will recognize them.

 

Screen Gems

A representative of the Mesilla Valley Film Society checked in to give an update on the stalled sale of the Fountain Theatre. Bound by lawyers not to say too much, the source confirmed that the film society's deal with owner Lucille Valentine has hit a snag. Another buyer was still in negotiations with Valentine at press time, and the theater remains officially on the market. People who donated by check for the theater's purchase and who would like their money refunded can call 524-8287 or send a note to MVFS Drawer Z, Mesilla NM 88046. Money that's not refunded will be used for much needed improvements and upgrades.

Though Movie Gallery recently announced it would be closing around 520 of its video rental store locations nationwide in efforts to cut costs and pay debt, local movie buffs can breathe a sigh of relief. Personnel at both the 2110 E. Hwy. 180 location in Silver City and the Las Cruces outlet at 5702 Bataan Memorial E. say those outlets will will remain open. The Dothan, Ala.-based company is the number-two renter of videos nationwide, after Blockbuster.

 

New in Town

Scott Thompson, a bona-fide "horse whisperer," has started up Scott Thompson Horsemanship, offering ground school, horse handling, natural riding clinics and individual instruction. Thompson's slogan is "Teach the person first and the horse will follow." Leave the horse trailer at home — he comes to your place and works with you and your horse in its familiar environs. 388-1830.

Stephen Schleusener of Silver City is hanging out his shingle for on-site computer and network consulting. He lists among his specialties computer repair, networking and network management, Web site design, computer training and programming for a variety of projects, including database programming. 538-1904.

Also entering the local computer biz is Robert W. Hassell, operating Silver City PC Fix at 308 S. Bullard St. in Silver City. 956-9620, www.scpcfix.com.

Unique Nails has opened at 1780 Hwy. 180 E., Suite B, in Silver City. Owner Thuan Le moved here from Virginia in September and set up shop immediately. 538-3568.

Janisma Williams is getting April's Attic, a Silver City-based retail T-shirt business, off the ground. "I'm just getting my brochure and things together, and my plan is to start selling in the spring," says the Virginia native who's lived in New Mexico for two years now. 388-2722.

Leroy Gonzalez has opened Hatz Sports at 211 Hwy. 180 W. in Silver City, across from Pizza Hut, selling all manner of sports-related merchandise. "It's a fan shop for sports fanatics," says Gonzalez, who operated a similar business in Silver City's downtown years before, but closed shop after being burglarized. atz Hatz HHatz sells, well, hats, of course, along with all manner of licensed products, like team-themed key chains, watches, mugs, emblems, pennants and bumper stickers. He even has gift-wrapping paper emblazoned with team logos to wrap up those perfect gifts for the sports lover in your life. 534-4438.

After coordinating a tutoring program through JPPO and at the local middle and high schools, Justin Wecks has established Wex Ventures, an educational consulting business in Silver City. Wecks and his wife moved here three years ago from Denver. Both are educators, she at La Plata Middle School. 313-5779.

Don't go around shaggy! Las Cruces has a new barber, Whiskers, at 3530 Foothills Rd. Owner Ron Culshaw, who previously wielded his sheers in Phoenix, says he was tired of the big-city congestion and that Las Cruces suits him fine, reminding him of the Phoenix in the 1960s. 522-9773.

 

Bigger and Better

Flowerings, the florist shop on Yankie Street in downtown Silver City, is branching out. After a successful trial run selling flowers by the bucket this past summer outdoors at The Hub Plaza on Bullard Street, proprietor Vicki Sexton is setting up a cash-and-carry satellite business in The Marketplace at The Hub, selling silk flowers and fresh flowers by bouquets and stems.

Rachel Sheehan has joined Smith Real Estate, 505 W. College Ave. in Silver City, as an associate broker. Smith now boasts more than two-dozen professional agents on its busy roster. 538-5373.

Dr. Gregory Charlton and Dr. Kristyna Hartse have joined the Sonno Sleep Center, 1240 S. Telshor Blvd. in Las Cruces.

Silverleaf Land & Real Estate has joined with Steinborn GMAC Real Estate, with Silverleaf moving into Steinborn's headquarters on Roadrunner Parkway in Las Cruces, the smaller agency adding a dozen realtors to Steinborn's team of agents. www.steinborn.com, www.silverleaflc.com.

And the Staybridge Suites at 2651 Northrise Dr., Las Cruces, is getting bigger and better, adding 28 new suites. A spokeswoman at Lodging Host in Texas, the company that manages the property, says they are hoping for a March 2008 opening.

La Paz and Perches Funeral Homes has purchased Graham's Mortuary, which has been in operation in Las Cruces for nearly a century. The funeral home is located at 555 W. Amador Ave. La Paz and Perches operates funeral homes in Las Cruces, El Paso and Juarez. In Las Cruces, the company has become La Paz Graham's Funeral Home.

 

On the Move...

Beta Tech Solutions has moved from its location on 14th Street to 1800 Hwy. 180 E., Suite C, in Silver City, next to A Better Chimney. Manager Will Bush says they specialize in everything computer-related, including set-ups and repairs. The company also fixes electronics like VCRs and game consoles. "I think we're the only ones in town who work on stuff like that," Bush says. As part of its Grand Re-Opening celebration, Beta Tech is raffling off a new computer just before Christmas, so get your tickets now! 534-0258.

 

For Sale

Brett Rogers is selling his massage practice, An Excellent Massage for $45, including client list, Web site, signs and special accoutrements and equipment in his retrofitted apartment where the business currently is housed on Grant Street, for $3,500. Rogers says he hopes to be moving to Asheville, NC, which he calls "a very progressive community in all ways," by early December. 534-9703.

Chryssa's Catering, LLC, is for sale as a turnkey business operation for $105,900. The owner will allow the purchaser(s) 90 days to move the business out from its current location at 1419 Little Walnut Road, and the Realtor suggests the Many Moons building out on Hwy. 180 would make a great spot to house the shop.

 

Coming Soon...

Is it ever too early to start thinking about our New Year's resolutions? Las Crucens hoping to become more fit in 2008 will have help from a new 12,000-square-foot fitness center being built at the corner of Sonoma Ranch Boulevard and White Sage Arc, near Sonoma Elementary School. Co-owners Tanner Green of Las Cruces and Coloradoan Shannon Wood hope to have the place open by the time the New Year's ball drops. The facility will have all the usual fitness and workout gear, featuring weights, aqua massage, a complete tanning facility and a 21-foot-tall climbing tower. A trailer at the building site has samples of the equipment and info about the center; the curious can check it out, and the committed can sign up now as new members.

Bahama Buck's, a Texas-based company, hopes to open new locations of its "surf-themed" shaved-ice shops — with a thatch-bamboo-and-palm tree decor — in Do_a Ana County. There's already a Bahama Buck's in Clovis, and the company says its goal is to have more than 30 locations throughout the state, with proposed outlets in Las Cruces and Vado. Currently the company operates 26 shops throughout Texas and Arizona.

 

Ch-ch-changes

Carla DeMarco has sold her Decades vintage clothing biz to Ruth Olsson, who owns Fun Rental and Resale. "I'm looking to make some time to get better at playing guitar and songwriting," DeMarco says. Though both businesses are located in The Hub plaza on Bullard Street in downtown Silver City, Olsson says she'll be keeping the businesses separate, continuing to operate Decades in Arthur Young's The Marketplace, where Decades already gets good traffic and is established. The business changes hands Nov. 1, Olsson confirms.

 

Going, going, gone

After three years making Silver City residents more beautiful, Elemental Day Spa is closing. Owners Mari King and Laurie Larson cite "life changes" for the decision. The last day of business for the spa, at 406 N. Black, will be Nov. 16; it will temporarily reopen to sell retail and/or professional inventory and equipment on Thursdays and Fridays in December.

The White Eagle Trading Post has flown the coop, vacating its nest on Bennett Street in Silver City. The roost is vacant to the bare walls, getting a remodel and looking for a new tenant.

 

Grand Openings

Businesses at the new shopping center at 105 N. Rosedale Road, Silver City, north of the Albertson's grocery store, have opened in recent weeks. The Rent-A-Center and Maurice's, a clothing store for men and women, have cut the big red ribbon, and Rue 21 and Hibbett Sports have thrown open their doors, as well.

Sonrise Hearing Center held its grand opening at 1161 Mall Dr., Las Cruces, last month, offering state-of-the-art digital hearing testing and hearing aid fittings. www.ahearingaid.com.

 

Send business news to
donna@desertexposure.com.

 

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