Craig Craig needed a push.
The city was missing something, John Ponikvar thought. People weren't acting as proud of their homes as they should, as though Craig natives didn't have a reason to say where they came from, he said.
"We have a lot to offer, we just need to get the word out," Ponikvar said. "We were the only ones in the world who didn't know who we were."
Ponikvar, Craig NAPA owner, took it upon himself to print banners, hats and T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Craig Colorado, Elk Hunting Capitol of the World."
He had become discouraged by the official branding campaign after the Craig Chamber of Commerce meeting Aug. 9. Nobody could make a decision and nobody was willing to put hunting forward as the clear draw.
"This was something I thought Craig should be doing for a long time," Ponikvar said. "Craig is very well known throughout the world for all its hunting, and we should do something to promote that."
Craig is a destination, and it's about time the people here bought into that, he added.
It was a plan that brewed in Ponikvar's head for a couple years before he acted.
More than a year ago, he vacationed in Florida and found himself talking to a man from Maine during lunch. When he told the guy where he was from, the man couldn't believe Ponikvar wasn't out hunting.
"Here we are, in the middle of Florida, talking to a guy from Maine, and he's talking about hunting," Ponikvar said.
The campaign has produced interest in spades - and from more than interested locals.
A man from Wausau, Wis., who named his son Craig after the town he and his wife love to visit in the fall, wants a banner to hang in the boy's room.
A Seattle hunting club wants a banner for its lodge.
Then Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply made a big order for hats and shirts, and the Kum & Go stations are having trouble keeping merchandise in stock.
Ponikvar is working with a Denver attorney to copyright the phrase and the elk logo designed by Troy DeRose at Identity Graphics.
"This is an exciting time to be in Craig," Ponikvar said. "We're growing. Now is the time to take advantage of that."
Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or email@example.com