Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content More businesses hurt by fire receive a financial boost

RICH LADEN Updated: September 20, 2012 at 12:00 am

For The Cellar Door, a home decor, accessories and gift shop in Woodland Park, U.S. Highway 24 is a lifeline; without it, area residents, and especially tourists, can’t reach the store.

So even though The Cellar Door remained opened during the Waldo Canyon fire that began in late June, the blaze forced the highway’s closure for several days and the store took a financial hit that lasted beyond the road’s reopening, said co-owner Ben Caperton.

By August, sales were down $10,000 for the three-month period when compared with the same time last year, he said.

“We totally understood why they had to close 24,” said Caperton, who owns the business with his wife, Jamie. “But it definitely impacted us financially. You just didn’t have folks coming in the door.”

On Thursday, The Cellar Door, along with Lakeside Cottages in Green Mountain Falls, received a boost when the businesses each received a $2,000 check from the Pikes Peak Area Rotary Endowment.

It was the second round of checks from the endowment, a foundation formed by eight Colorado Springs-area Rotary clubs who have raised money from members and outside sources to award grants to businesses hurt by the fire.

Normally, Caperton said, he and his wife would have used summer revenues to buy items for the upcoming fall and holiday seasons. Now, with the $2,000 check, they can make some of those purchases.

“For them to go out and give back to the small businesses, it’s absolutely incredible,” Caperton said. “I’m an old retired police officer. They made an old retired officer cry this morning.”

The Rotary Endowment expects to distribute at least six more $2,000 checks over the next few weeks, said Rosanne Gain, president-elect of the North Colorado Springs Rotary Club and an endowment spokeswoman. This month, checks also were given to The Pantry of Green Mountain Falls restaurant and Bad Rock Auto in Woodland Park.

Businesses in trouble have been identified by word-of-mouth among the 400 members of the area Rotary clubs, as well as from local news stories, Gain said. To receive a grant, businesses must share financial records with an endowment representative to demonstrate a major drop in revenue.

Area Rotary club members have contributed thousands, but the endowment also is accepting donations from the public. Donations can be made by sending checks made out to the Pikes Peak Area Rotary Endowment with “Waldo Canyon Fire Relief” on the memo line and mailing them in care of Cathy Skiles, P.O. Box 541, Woodland Park, Colo, 80866.

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen

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