The Spruce House
Acquiring White Orchid Bridal
125 Spruce Drive Estes Park, CO 80517
This was about the time Diane had her first brush with disaster. In June of 2012, the area surrounding Estes Park was plagued by wildfires. In September of 2013 Estes Park was hit with flooding not seen for well over 100 years. “The flood almost bankrupted us,” Diane said, “but while I was busy worrying about how to meet payroll, my staff were dealing with not having a place to live.” One of Diane’s businesses closed for 75 days and another for 10 days, but the impact of loss of tourism lasted longer.
Facing the difficult decision of whether to continue the businesses, Diane applied for an SBA Disaster Loan. “When I got the check, I cried. I was glad that I could continue my businesses, but afraid to take on more debt.” Through this assistance and United Way grants, her businesses were able to continue, but the tourism-based economy didn’t bounce back quickly. She continued working with the Larimer SBDC to apply for the Recover Colorado Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), which she was awarded in early 2015.
“The SBDC outreach and assistance helping us get organized for the application process was crucial.”Diane worked with the landlord of the White Orchid Bridal property to modify the shop for Diane’s latest brainchild: a shop with trendier items called Liz & Jo’s. The grant money allowed her to finance the expansion, purchase inventory, advertising, a website upgrade for all her shops and even shoot a commercial.
When asked about the most exciting part of owning multiple businesses Diane says, “It’s about seeing them thrive versus just surviving. Consumerism has changed; the way people has vacation has changed. The silver lining of the flood is that it forced us as a community to deal with changing competitive tourism.”
To help with ongoing economic recovery and planning, Diane contributes to several boards. The town has received an EDA grant for economic development she hopes will move the economy from seasonal to a more sustainable year-round economy. Diane is proud to help move the community forward, both as a business owner and an active individual. “Our contributions will pay off in the future.”