Business in the southwest area is flush for some and famine for others. View Neighborhood Newspapers checked in with a few previously featured businesses that make (or distribute) products in the southwest part of the valley.
Oregon: a lot closer than Italy
Second-generation Italian-Americans Paul Vultaggio and Chris Napolitan created their own Italian soda company five years ago because they could not find one locally they liked. Their soda, Chrome Citrus Blitz, contains natural orange, lemon and lime flavoring.
Reaching for authenticity, the duo originally had it made and bottled in northern Italy and shipped to the Vultaggio Napolitan Beverage Co. distribution warehouse at 5030 S. Decatur Blvd., Suite G.
They had distribution at more than 100 local restaurants, Lee's Discount Liquors and many gas stations.
Business was going great, but "gas prices were killing (them)" on overseas shipping. It forced them to look closer to home for the drink's creation.
The two found a company in Portland, Ore., to make the soda using the same ingredients and for less money.
They also added a diet soda in the past year, which is selling great, Vultaggio said. Albertsons and Glazier's Food Marketplace also picked up the soda. He said the drink is suitable for any occasion.
"It makes a great cocktail mixer," Vultaggio said. "It's kid-friendly; it's not an energy drink."
Vultaggio said the company plans to release more flavors in the near future and begin distributing nationally and in Canada in the spring. It also is in talks with a reality TV show to feature the drink, though he could not disclose which show it was.
Vultaggio and Napolitan used to work other jobs to subsidize their income but said they are focused on their soda at this point.
"This is pretty much a full-time gig," Vultaggio said. "It's pretty much keeping our hands full."
Individual 16-ounce cans of Chrome Citrus Blitz are available for 99 cents.
Hollywood las vegas
It is no surprise that Mark Allen's movie and TV props business is still around after 25 years.
"We have kind of a monopoly on things," Allen said. "(Business) is improving a bit each month."
Allen owns Western Stage Props, 3945 W. Reno Ave., Suite F, which makes and specializes in western props such as whips, trick riding saddles, trick ropes and the hottest item of all - blank ammunition.
Allen said it is his biggest source of revenue, and he sells to police academies, theme parks and movie and TV shows. Allen has supplied whips for the "Indiana Jones," "Zorro" and "The Bourne Identity" movies and the TV show "NCIS." He also supplied props for upcoming movies "The Lone Ranger," starring Johnny Depp, and director Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." His items are also heavily used in the many Cirque du Soleil shows at Strip casinos.
Allen has been featured on the History Channel's "Pawn Stars" several times to help identify movie and western memorabilia. He also offers lessons in trick roping, whip cracking, knife throwing, gun spinning and more for between $25 and $50 per hour.
Allen said he gets international visitors who come to tour the showroom. Admission to the showroom is free and open to the public.
After so long in the business, this cowboy said it may be time to hang up his hat.
"I've been doing this for 25 years; maybe I'm looking for someone to take it over," Allen said. "If the right person came along, (I'm) looking for someone to take the reins."
Whereas Italian soda and western props are in demand, Scott Newman's skilled labor is not.
Before the recession, Newman was creating glass artwork at local casinos, businesses and houses. He etched an underwater scene at the Half Shell restaurant, 30 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway, and most recently worked on the glass in the Golden Nugget doors at the Fremont Street entrance.
But that streak of work was nearly broken in recent years.
"The economy just killed me," Newman said. "I still do everything, if not more. It's just not as much work."
Newman and his wife, Lorien, create stained glass windows and custom etched glasswork out of their shop, Glass Impression, 3775 W. Teco Ave., Suite 1.
When times were good, Newman said he would create custom shower glass artwork for five to 10 bathrooms each month. It was his main money-maker. This year, he may get five jobs total, he said.
Lorien Newman is a part-time massage therapist and returned to school to become a pharmacist. Scott Newman also took up part-time work as a light and sound technician for casino shows, which was his full-time job before taking to glass art.
Newman said he sees a future in the glass business because "casinos are all going crazy with remodelings."
He also has been hired by the local carpenters union to create a piece in its main entrance that will be 8 feet by 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds.
"It's the biggest job I've had in six years," he said. "It's starting to turn. I can see some big projects."
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-5524.