Feb 27, 2014 10:43 PM by Maddie Garrett
The domino effect of fires and floods in Manitou Springs is making it tough for some businesses to stay afloat, just as the small town is trying to bounce back from the natural disasters.
While there are some new businesses coming in, the historic downtown district is dotted with signs that read "closed" or "we've moved" in the windows of once buzzing shops.
One Manitou Springs icon, The Dulcimer Shop, is closing down after 44 years of business. Owner Bud Ford said if it hadn't been for the financial hits he took after the floods, this wouldn't be happening.
"We're going through grief," said Ford as he and his daughter pack up his beloved instruments Thursday afternoon.
Ford explained that the floods shut down production completely in August 2013, right when they should have been at maximum production. The financial loss was about $200,000.
Not only did they lose out on sales and revenue, but the repairs turned out to be more costly than they could handle.
"Tore out utilities connections to the buildings," said Ford. "Getting mud in all of the motors on all of our woodworking equipment."
It was all too much for Ford and his family business to stay afloat.
"We did not have the money to both pay our employees and make the tax deposits so my wife made the human choice, and not fire six of our friends," he explained.
Now the IRS is taking everything, right down to the the very last handmade dulcimer.
"A loss of heritage, certainly for our family, for the Pikes Peak Region," Ford said.
The closing of The Dulcimer Shop is just one piece of a changing landscape in downtown Manitou Springs.
"We're kind of playing musical stores," added Ford.
Some stores have closed up completely . Safron and Marika's, the yoyo shop are all out of business. The Taos Trading Company is also closing up shop.
Others are taking their business elsewhere, like Coquettes which moved to downtown Colorado Springs, or Adam's Mountain Cafe, preparing to move to the east side of Manitou Springs.
Krista Lewis and her husband showed up to the old Coquettes location on Manitou Avenue Thursday evening, disappointed to see the lights out and the doors locked.
"We've been coming to Coquettes for a couple of years," said Lewis. "It won't be a Manitou experience anymore so I'm a little disappointed about that."
Word on the street and among business owners is that some shops are hoping to better elsewhere, away from the flooding and the problems it brings with it.
"Hopefully they'll be able to make some adjustments in Manitou Springs and not have future issues like that," said Lewis of the businesses leaving.
Ford said the floods have been devastating to small businesses like his own, and he hopes shop owners and the City takes action to try and prevent loss like they suffered last year.
"They better be starting to work really really hard on getting the flood mitigation done," said Ford.
Manitou Springs is in the process of dredging the bottom of Fountain Creek to lower the flow line, which rose an average of three feet after the flooding. El Paso County also has several projects in the works, meant to slow down flood waters and catch debris before it hits Manitou Springs.
As for some of the vacant shops, there are new businesses set to move in. But not all have been lease out yet.
Ford and his family have one last shot at keeping their instruments, equipment and woodshop, by fundraising money to pay off the IRS. A website has been started to raise money: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-dulcimer-shops-woodshop
However, a new tenant is already set to move into the shop on March 1, 2014.
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