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BUSINESS BEAT: Forget me knot — the secret to tying shoes

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Evergreen resident Eileen Sloan never dreamed she would invent a product that helps youngsters learn to tie their shoes.

The teacher-turned-entrepreneur has created EZLeaps, a plastic device and a seven-step process to help alleviate the frustration of shoe-tying for youngsters. Nordstrom stores are selling the product and teaching Sloan’s process during shoe-tying classes in its stores nationwide, and the devices are available at Twigs in downtown Evergreen and HearthFire Books and Treats in Bergen Park.

For Sloan, who taught elementary school in Illinois and in Jeffco, including at the Bergens, having children in her classroom who couldn’t tie their shoes was a frustration for both her and the kids.

“To teach a kid to tie a shoelace takes a lot of time and commitment,” she said. “I would run out at recess time and try to teach one kid at a time.”

So, one day, she took a plastic coffee can lid and punched holes in it. She used that to help kids create the loops that little fingers have a hard time making. Voila: They learned the shoe-tying technique in minutes.

“I did a little more research and found there are 18 million kids at any given time who need to learn to tie their shoes,” Sloan said. “I got into teaching because I wanted to help people, so I ended up taking a leap of faith and stopped teaching to start my own business.”

The plastic devices now come in 12 designs that were selected with help from Bergen Meadow students, and they appeal to both boys and girls, with cats, soccer balls, unicorns, cupcakes, horses and monkeys on them. There’s a hole in the corner so they can be clipped onto kids’ backpacks.

On the back is a spot for kids to put their names and the date they learned to tie their shoes.

“I want to be the go-to company for milestone events for children,” said Sloan, who also has designed a device called Thumbkin to help kids stop sucking their thumbs.

Sloan said her shoe-tying product is especially useful for children with special needs.

“Because shoe-tying is a multi-step process, the tool breaks it down step by step,” she said. “If they make a mistake, the shoelaces pop back into place. It turns what could be a frustration into a celebration.”

EZLeaps costs $5.49, and the video that demonstrates the device is available at www.ezleaps.com.

Le Peep has closed

Bergen Village’s Le Peep restaurant closed on Jan. 12 so its owner can move to Wyoming to be closer to family.

Rodney Miller, who has operated the breakfast-and-lunch restaurant since 2002, said he’s entering a new phase in his life. Miller isn’t sure what he’ll do next but says it won’t be in the restaurant business. He wants to have weekends off to spend more time with his 8-year-old son.

Miller said Le Peep wasn’t as successful as he had hoped, and it’s time to try something new.

“I definitely enjoyed meeting customers all these years,” Miller said. “I want to thank everyone for allowing us to operate here.”

Miller is auctioning off items from the restaurant at rollerauction.com.

Business Express owner remembers caring customers

After three months of retirement, Mary Jo Nelson, who owned Business Express in Bergen Park, said she’s enjoying her leisure time but misses the connection with her customers.

Nelson, who was a business owner here for 22 years, said she was able to connect on a personal level with customers.

“I had a different kind of business, where connecting with customers was really easy,” Nelson said. “They would come in to ship something because of a new grandchild, a death in the family or other personal events.”

The shop in the Marketplace at Bergen Park started as Mail Boxes Etc., and Nelson changed it to Business Express in 2011. When she sold it last year, it became a UPS Store.

“Evergreen is just the best place, and we are extremely fortunate to have the quality of people who care in Evergreen,” she said. “(Having the business was) a life experience. It’s not just the satisfaction of having a good business; it’s more the satisfaction of getting to know people on a deeper level.”

All Roos moves to Highway 74

All Roos has moved from Bryant Drive to Highway 74 across from the Church of the Transfiguration.

The auto repair shop, which works on all cars but specializes in Subarus, also will become a Shell gasoline station in February, according to manager Dan Savone.

Evergreen resident Gary Hoagland originally opened the repair shop and Subaru sales in Aurora 20 years ago.

All Roos opened on Bryant Drive in Evergreen in May, and Hoagland had been eyeing the former Bear’s Automotive on Highway 74. When the spot became available, he jumped on it, Savone said.

“We want to be the local expert on Subarus,” Savone said.

For more information, call 303-618-9998 or visit www.allroos.com.

Print shop becomes Naxos Design

Master Printers, a longtime full-service print shop in Canyon Commons, has morphed into Naxos Design.

Naxos Design is owned by Kerry Griess, who took over Master Printers in November from Bob Kennedy, who retired. Griess had been a graphic designer at Master Printers for 14 years.

Griess has decided to move Naxos Design to her home office on Hatch Drive, and it will have all the capabilities of Master Printers except for the walk-in copying service.

“I’ll have everything else but the storefront,” Griess said.

She said she named her business after the Greek island Naxos, which also appears in Greek mythology.

To reach Griess, call 303-670-0751 or e-mail graphics.naxos@gmail.com.

Insurance agent Stephens retires

American Family insurance agent Toni Stephens has retired after 17 years with the agency, 15 of them in Evergreen.

Stephens, who has lived here since 1978, will be moving to Michigan in the spring because she is having breathing difficulties at Evergreen’s altitude.

“If it weren’t for that,” she said, “I’d never leave Evergreen.”

Stephens said she’s enjoyed getting to know her clients and helping them with insurance issues, and she will miss her clients and friends.

Stephens’ clients have been transferred to Evergreen agent Brett Champine.

4 businesses honored at chamber banquet

The Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce announced its annual awards at the Sparkle and Shine banquet in December.

Stagecoach Sports Grill was named Business of the Year, receiving the Diamond Award; Crossroads Chiropractic and Acupuncture claimed the new-business honors, receiving the Sapphire Award; the Downtown Evergreen Economic District was given the Uniquely Evergreen, or Emerald, Award; and Da Kind Soups received the People’s Choice Award, also called the Ruby Award.

Have tips about businesses in Evergreen? Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com.