It Takes a Village to Grow: Business Edition with Piñon Market
GROW Nebraska has been adapting over the years since 1998 to better help many businesses. One of the latest businesses GROW Nebraska has been working with is Piñon Market. This is a Kearney Nebraska owned and operated store, featuring many diverse products you would find in a store in a typical Mexican Market, or around the world. The owner of Piñon Market, Veronica Piñon, greets everyone with a friendly face and wants to bring a little piece of everyone’s home to her store. Piñon Market has been open since June of 2021.
In order to help this entity succeed, GROW Nebraska sent over their food mentors Clarissa Nutt-Feldman, Gary Hughes, and Cheryl Hughes, to help with things like proper packaging, labeling, distributors and co packers. These are just some of the things offered when you join GROW Nebraska.
Before anyone came to meet her, Amanda Miller, one of GROW’s team members was Veronica’s first contact at GROW. She told her about Cheryl, and what she might be able to offer. “There were a lot of phone calls back and forth with Amanda and she was the one who gave me all the information to meet with the right people she went above and beyond her job.”
Food mentor Clarissa Feldman states, “The idea behind the food mentor program is being a collaboration of GROW Nebraska food business members, and their knowledge coming together, helping other food businesses within GROW Nebraska.” Along with being a mentor for GROW Nebraska, Clarissa owns her own business as well called Setting D Ranch, where she sells pork and beef products.
Veronica Piñon started her business in hopes of growing within the community. She wants to focus on building a store where everyone feels welcome. One of the things she loves about GROW Nebraska is that it is centered on being a local organization and helping businesses like hers succeed. Veronica wants to work to empower the town like her grandparents did in their hometown. “I didn’t just want to stay local in Nebraska, I wanted to stay right here in Kearney. I had the opportunity to be a traveling market and go other places, but I wanted to concentrate on Nebraska. Kearney is the heartland.”
Veronica says “I learned a lot from Cheryl the first time she was here, but when her and Clarissa both came in I was ecstatic about it. They both own a business, and Cheryl has been in business for the longest time. I want to continue that legacy that Cheryl has by helping other women to be successful, and everybody in business. It’s wonderful that we support each other at GROW Nebraska.”
Veronica continues with this and says “I wanted to grow. I am totally excited for Cheryl to say change this fix that, because it has helped me grow. Not only did Cheryl help me, but Janell came and met me and helped me. She took that time out of her busy schedule to get to know me and my business.”
Cheryl Hughes owns and operates HR Poppin’ Snacks in Gibbon with her husband Gary Hughes. She sells all the crowd favorite flavors of popcorn, such as caramel corn, and a several unique ones such as mountain dew flavor called “dew popcorn”. She joined GROW Nebraska toward the beginning stages of the program so she could get help with marketing.
Cheryl started being a food mentor with GROW Nebraska hoping to help other businesses avoid what she went through when she started. She says, “I would rather see everybody get off on the right foot, rather than getting to the middle of something and have to redo everything. I appreciate working with them up front so that they have a better chance to succeed.” Cheryl wants these businesses to start out with the resources and not have to learn so much by trial and error. “Everyone figures things out by trial and error but GROW Nebraska has evolved to the point that members don’t have to be so trial and error. They get networking and contacting with good resources. Then they are not only more successful but sustainable as well.”
Veronica had a lot of help from many different organizations along the way. A few of these included Derek Rusher, with The Kearney Area Chamber of commerce, UNL Extensions, Nebraska Business Development Center, and Anthony Gurrola with the Center of Rural affairs. All of which helped her get started, and really formed her business plan. “There were a lot of people who came in, and really helped me. It has not been easy by any means, but I really think they have helped me get somewhere with this.”
Veronica was called a go getter by the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce and was voted Best New Business of the Year in 2021. Piñon Market owner is taking all the baby steps to get to where she is now, by not only learning English but establishing herself in the community as well. “I am focusing on what legacy do I have to give?”
Janell Anderson Ehrke CEO and founder of GROW Nebraska says, “It really takes a village to grow a business. Here at GROW Nebraska, we want to be a part of that village.”
Veronica has also become a part of the Rotary Club, and has been approached by the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Student Diversity and Inclusion Club to speak at an event. She may just be starting her legacy but her breakfast burritos are already a top hit in the community. If you are craving a home cooked burrito, get yourself one from Piñon Market today!
New Business of the Year Award Video
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About the GROW Nebraska® Foundation
The GROW Nebraska® Foundation helps entrepreneurs get the resources they need to live in Anywhere, NE and make a sustainable living. Since the inception of GROW Nebraska® in 1998 our vision and mission has never wavered: to create viable economic development through business training, technical assistance, promotion, and access to markets. We create impactful opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to live in “Anywhere”, Nebraska and make a sustainable living.