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Andrea Lopez

Featured Article

A Caring Collaboration

Small Business Owners Lift Each Other Up

Article by Bethany Wiley, MPH

Photography by Dyenamic Media Concepts

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

Being a small business owner usually begins with a vision, followed by a leap of faith. It can be scary and nerve-wracking to begin. Thankfully, Greeley has a supportive community of small business owners who lift each other up and care about each other’s success. Whether it’s welcoming a new small business owner to “the club,” or collaborating to offer unique events and products, these business owners show us that supporting each other corresponds with growing together.

While vacationing in Costa Rica in 2016, Esmeralda Betancourt shared a memorable experience with friends that inspired her future business. Esmeralda and her friends were eating avocado toast at a café on the beach, and she told them, “I promise I will open an avocado toast café someday.”

Having graduated from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) Business School, Esmeralda knew she would own a business someday. After spending some time traveling, living in Hawaii, and working in marketing and social media in Denver, Esmeralda decided 2023 was the year to begin planning for her own business.

“Writing a business plan in 2023 was on my bucket list,” says Esmeralda. She moved back to Greeley, and in May 2023, Esmeralda connected with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UNC for counsel in writing a business plan.

In January 2024, Esmeralda turned her vision into a reality, opening Cocos Café + Shop in St. Michael’s Square. From the name to the décor, the hand-picked items for sale, and every small detail in between, you can feel Esmeralda’s care for her shop. To her, the little things matter – from the coasters, spoons and glass straws to the unique menu items like the ‘avo toastie’ and secret matcha.

Esmeralda says the name Cocos is endearing with a dreamy and romantic feel – a feeling that she hopes her customers feel when they visit. With a love for travel, Esmeralda designed Cocos Café + Shop with inspiration and items gathered from her trips to Morocco, Spain, and Portugal.

However, what is most important to Esmeralda is connecting with others. Whether it’s her connecting with her customers or collaborating with other small business owners, she loves “noticing the little things.” Esmeralda believes that small businesses should support each other because “we only get better when we grow together.”

One of the businesses that Esmeralda has collaborated with is Vale Snacks, located in downtown Greeley. Andrea Lopez, owner of Vale Snacks, opened her store in 2023 offering salads, wraps, bagels, smoothie bowls, and cold pressed juice. With a personal practice and love of juicing, Andrea wanted to share the health benefits with others. “You are what you eat,” says Andrea. “And you feel better and look better when you eat well.”

Andrea began collaborating with Esmeralda in January 2024 when Cocos Café + Shop first opened. “I have learned so much from Esmeralda’s openness and friendliness,” says Andrea. The two business owners also bonded over the care they take in providing quality ingredients to their customers.

Andrea appreciated the way the downtown Greeley shops welcomed her to the block when she opened Vale Snacks. “We have an amazing community in Greeley,” says Andrea. “Plus, my business neighbors have been really caring and supportive.”

Bethany Harrold, owner of Ellie’s Corner Shop, shares the same joy of connecting and collaborating with small business owners in Greeley, including Cocos Café + Shop. Just under two years ago, Bethany opened her home bakery and pop-up pie shop right after having her son. “I birthed a baby and a pie shop all at once,” says Bethany.

Bethany began selling her pies at the Greeley Farmers Market, and it really took off. “The community has been so welcoming,” says Bethany. “When we came into the scene, other small businesses supported us.”

Born and raised in Greeley, Bethany grew up baking pies with her mom, Vicki Brawner, so pies have always been a cornerstone in her family. Ellie’s Corner Shop is named after Bethany’s daughter, Ellie, and Bethany hopes that Ellie will absorb a love for baking, just like her mom and grandma Vicki.

The support Ellie’s Corner Shop has received from other small businesses has elevated Bethany’s love for Greeley. Through collaborating with other small businesses, Bethany has found success with her pop-up pie shops. Bethany did her first pop-up pie shop at Charley & CO. Market and The Coffee Bar. The pop-up pie shops allow the businesses to share their customers, and helps bring new customers in the door. Now you can find Ellie’s pop-up pie shops all over town, including at businesses such as Blush Boutique, Cocos Café + Shop, Wiley Roots Brewing, Palmer Flowers, as well as at events in downtown Greeley.

Collaborating with other businesses was a happy surprise for Bethany and is one of the things she loves about owning a small business in Greeley. “I’ve connected with so many small businesses, and it feels like collaboration, not competition,” says Bethany. Andrea also appreciates working with several small businesses in Greeley and finds it to be a perfect partnership. “It feels like a caring exchange,” says Andrea.

For Cocos Café + Shop, Vale Snacks and Ellie’s Corner Shop, connecting and supporting each other through a caring collaboration allows them to grow together in their businesses and as individuals. “As I meet other business owners, I can see their talent, and I want to encourage them in their journey. Sometimes we just need a little encouragement,” says Esmerelda. “We all want to be the best at what we do and make it exceptional.”

“I’ve connected with so many small businesses and it feels like collaboration, not competition.”

“We only get better when we grow together.”

  • Esmeralda Betancourt
  • Bethany Harrold
  • Andrea Lopez

Follow and support them on Instagram: @cocoscafeshop, @vale_pressedjuice,