SHERIDAN — Many would say coffee is the secret to a well-ran day, and Bison Union Coffee understands this. Bert Kuntz and Candace Appleton-Kuntz know what it means to serve a hardy cup of coffee while harvesting local relationships with other businesses as they start their newest project, a coffee storefront on Grinnell Plaza and Main Street that models the symbolism behind the American bison; a powerful emblem throughout the West that has had a significant role in human affairs since early settlers roamed through the plains.
The duo said they became familiar with Sheridan when they started collaborating with PJ Treide, owner of Bighorn Design, while working full time for Black Rifle, a coffee company owned by former members of the U.S. military. Between Black Rifle and Bison Union, Bighorn Design was creating around 150,000 hats a year, Kuntz said.
“PJ started doing our hats, the quality was really good and I really enjoyed interacting with PJ,” Kuntz said. “So I started coming over here and just fell in love with Sheridan immediately.”
The coffee store has an open path leading directly into Bighorn Design. Bison Union Coffee showcases artwork from Bighorn Design on hats, shirts, stickers, and coffee goods throughout the store.
Having a strong relationship with local business reeled the company to relocating to Sheridan.
“By no means are we competing with the other coffee shops here. We just want a nice relaxing environment, come watch us roast coffee, enjoy hanging out, those types of things. We’re not here to compete,” Appleton-Kuntz said.
Bison Union Coffee has teamed up with Sheridan Donut Company Bighorn Design and Flood Marketing. They are currently starting relationships with Fly Shop of the Big Horns, and Liam’s Furniture to try to expand their new roots. The couple owns five businesses; Bison Union, Bison Union Coffee, Pawn River, Land & Bison and an unreleased project called Sugar Drawers.
Sheridan will see another business pop up downtown that’s owned and operated by Appleton-Kuntz. An only-women-owned pottery business called Bootlegger Pottery will soon be opening where Fly Shop of the Big Horns used to be. As the Bison Union Brand continues to grow, Kuntz values the local connections he has already made.
“The old saying that I learned in the army is, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ and that for me is quintessential, that’s what bison means,” Kuntz said. “We want to work with as many people as we can to go as far as we can to raise as much money as we can for the farm, ranch, and the agriculture community.”
Bison Union Coffee runs specials where for each cup of coffee they sell, they donate $1 back to the Working Ranch Cowboys Association.