|Photo by Deanne Elliott|
Val has long dreamed of opening this store. She has managed the bison and sold the meat for years, first getting into the ranching business with her husband, Dale Dilley. He was an outfitter and all around Buffalo Guy. Flying Eagle Bison is in memory of “Buffalo Dundee”, as he was affectionately known. Val had been a nurse and office manager for years, and was ready for a change. She had thought she would open the shop at her home, where she has sold the meat for years, but wanted to be a part of downtown Del Norte and saw the value of being on Hwy 160. Seeing this building was available, and with support from her family and friends, she felt like the time was right to make her dream a reality. She has a good working relationship with other businesses in Del Norte and enjoys seeing the growing momentum of interest in businesses and services in the town.
The primary product in the store is the bison meat: roasts, briskets, steaks, ground meat, ribs, and stew meat are all available. The meat is 100% natural, with no growth hormones and antibiotic free. The bison are fed a combination of alfalfa, grass and potatoes, all grown locally. Bison, the “other red meat” is naturally flavorful and tender. It has a sweeter, richer taste; and many people say it is the most flavorful meat they have ever eaten. Nutritionally, bison meat has more protein and nutrients than many other meats, with fewer calories and less fat.
Val is primarily a rancher, owner of the Flying Eagle Bison Ranch, just outside of Del Norte. She does 95% of the ranch work herself. She manages the breeding of the animals and sells quality ranch raised breeding stock. The ranch is a member of the National Bison Association and a participant at the National Western Stock Show.
The bison meat is the focal product at the store, but Val also carries other merchandise relating to buffalo and specifically features items made by local artists. A painting by Karen Bonnie, “The Spirit of the Thunder” was newly unveiled at the grand opening of the store. You will also find mugs by “Always Azul Pottery” from Saguache; Charlie Ewing prints; soap made with buffalo tallow, photo cards of the San Luis Valley; and buffalo hide vests by Laurie 2 Dogs.
You will most likely find something new each time you visit as Val plans to continue adding more work by local artists. The sign outside the store was designed by Steve Crawford of Wildwood Sounds, in collaboration with Marian Rose, who designed the buffalo head. Val also works with the Local Foods Coalition to promote local products.
Val contacted Donna Wehe at the Small Business Development Center for help with legal entity, sales tax licensing and marketing in getting her business opened. The SBDC offers free and confidential counseling to those wishing to start, improve or expand their own business. Contact Donna at 719-589-3682 or www.coloradosbdc.org for more information or to request counseling services.
Stop in soon to see what treasure you might find at the Flying Eagle Bison store. Store hours are Monday through Saturday, from 9 to 5. For more information, call Val at 719-251-1176.