When a tourist town shuts down as Manitou Springs did this weekend, businesses suffer.
On Wednesday, organizers of a so-called "cash mob" are looking to compensate for the dollars that businesses lost during the mandatory Waldo Canyon Fire evacuation. Manitou Mob participants should meet at Soda Springs Park on 354 Manitou Ave. at noon.
The idea is simple: Area residents visit the city Wednesday spend money at shops and restaurants.
Pueblo firefighter Bob Falcone (@bobfireman on Twitter) came up with the idea and messaged Wendy Carson, who heads of the Colorado Springs Community Alliance, a local nonprofit. Carson took it to her more than 2,000 followers.
"The rest just kind of took on a life of its own," Falcone said.
As of 3:30 p.m. Monday, more than 300 people had responded "yes" to the Facebook event.
"Carpool, ride the bus, bike in, walk, ride your dog, whatever," Carson wrote on Facebook. "I am concerned that people make sure that they enter Manitou responsibly, that we try to keep the traffic impact on the city as low as possible."
Mountain Metropolitan Transit Route 3 buses run from Colorado Avenue to Manitou Avenue. And for those who do want to drive, there is a new lot at Old Mans Trail and Manitou Avenue that holds at least 130 vehicles.
Jessie Estes wasn't too worried about a possible flood of people in Manitou.
"I don't think you can ever have too much business," said Estes, who is marketing manager for the Stagecoach Inn restaurant.
The evacuation forced Stagecoach to cancel a wedding Sunday, and they also lost lunch and dinner revenue, Estes said. The restaurant is planning to offer a buy-one-get-one free coupon for returning evacuees -- or anyone else that might not want to cook dinner Wednesday. You can print out the coupon from the eatery's Facebook page.
Roger Miller is the chief operating officer with iManitou, a combination of the city's Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau and Office of Economic Development. He said Manitou depends on tourism for revenue, and every lost business day hurts. Popular attractions Cave of the Winds and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings are still closed, but Miller said this is a chance to spread word that all signs suggest that Manitou is safe.
"Anything that's going to help regain the business," he said.