Business heating up in West Glenwood
The view out the large picture window in the lobby of the Red Mountain Inn will likely never be the same. But within days of the inferno that wiped out nearly all vegetation on the idyllic north face of Red Mountain, business in West Glenwood seems to be sprouting once again. Unlike Red Mountain itself, the Red Mountain Inn was spared from the wildfire. But like other businesses in the once-evacuated areas of West and North Glenwood Springs, commerce has been creeping upward with each passing day.The folks at the Inn have received more than their share of calls inquiring whether the lodge still exists. “We came back here Tuesday, and we’re doing really well,” inn manager Karen Jones said. “We’ve mostly had calls about our property and concerns about people in Glenwood.”Cancellations are up somewhat, but not alarmingly. “We’ve had some cancellations. But the phone calls are mainly questions and a lot of concerns,” she said. Four families that lost their homes to the fire were staying at the inn on Thursday, receiving a discounted rate until they can find a permanent place to live. “We have cabins with kitchens, so we’re helping them with temporary housing,” Jones said. “And we have firefighters staying with us. We’re working with them, as well.” The discounts and cancellations are keeping profits down somewhat, but as Jones said, “We’re just happy to be here.”-Like the Red Mountain Inn, other business rebounds seem to be moving in direct proportion with firefighters’ success in dousing the Coal Seam Fire. Each owner or manager said the evacuation hurt them financially, but each, in turn, has expressed relief that their business survived the blaze. At Kmart – which, according to Saturday radio and television reports, had burned to the ground – business looked to be slowly returning to normal. Store manager Todd Onan said he’s received a slew of calls from concerned friends and family asking about the fire and if the store really burned down. “The phone calls I took at my personal home, it was out of control,” he said. “The Grand Junction (TV) station said the mall had been destroyed. At home, the phone was ringing off the hook all night.”Onan said his assistant evacuated the store, then closed the store’s doors at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.Once the store reopened on Tuesday, it took a while for the regular crowds to return. “A lot of customers said they thought the store burned down,” he said. “On Tuesday the mall (administration) told the radio the mall was closed, but we opened up.”Many of the items people, including firefighters staying in the area, were buying were essentials such as socks and underwear. Others bought cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaners. “As of (Wednesday), things were back to normal,” he said. Onan said Kmart will be working with the American Red Cross to help those who were affected by the fire. “Any time you have devastation like that, I think it affects the entire community,” he said. “We’ll be working to get those people back on track.”Big O Tires manager Randy Marquez said the shop only lost one day of business, Monday, because the tire store is normally closed on Sunday. “Everything was open on Tuesday,” he said. But just because the doors were open, that didn’t mean people were walking through them.”Tuesday we were probably slower than we’ve ever been,” Marquez said. “The phones weren’t even ringing. They probably thought we were closed.”By Wednesday, Marquez said business had picked up to about 75 percent of normal, then by midday on Thursday, he said the volume felt like it was about back to normal.Marc’s Toys and Pets owner Marc Adler had a unique set of problems when his store was evacuated Saturday evening – the pets. The store contains fish, reptiles, birds, small mammals and amphibians. But to his surprise, all of the animals were in good shape when he was allowed to return on Monday. “They did a fantastic job of closing things up, literally in the heat of the fire,” Adler said of his employees. “They shut off the vent system and put rags under the doors.”Those rags, when removed on Monday, were covered with ashes and soot, he said, which would have ended up in the store if the extra precautions weren’t taken. “I really didn’t expect everything to be OK,” he said. “I can’t tell you how remarkable it was that all the pets made it.”His employees even left the animals extra food and water to subsist on. “We did remove the birds. They’re much more susceptible to the smoke,” he said. One of those employees, Hernan Perez, recalled the frantic evacuation effort. “(Another employee) called and told us we have five minutes to get out of here,” Perez said. “When we went out, it was all yellow and there were ashes everywhere. We took the birds out of here.”But as soon as the birds were brought to Adler’s West Glenwood home, he was forced to evacuate, as well.Most of the beaked buddies were brought up to the Colorado Mountain College shelter, but two of the larger psittacines were taken in by the Gabriel Foundation. “Obviously the days, as far as businesswise, were lost revenue days. But I think that was a small price to pay compared to what could have happened, and compared to those who had their homes burn with all their belongings,” Adler said. Adler expressed his thanks to all those who helped save the city. “I think our town owes a debt of gratitude to them,” he said. “Nobody got hurt, and the fire was contained.”
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