2 washed-away highways force Colorado Cherry Co. owners to open a tent store

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LOVELAND, Colo. -- The Colorado Cherry Company has been around for decades, with two locations in Loveland and Lyons.

Those shops have been favorite stops for people looking for homemade pies, and jams, but the historic Colorado floods washed away the only roads leading to their shops. The family owned and operated business has now gone mobile, setting up a tent at the Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland to help make ends meet.

Summer sales were booming, until flood waters washed out highways 34 and 36. Owner Kristi Lehnert says, "Our income went to zero overnight." Lehnert and her husband Anthony are now selling their products out of the back of a truck, trying to drum up whatever business they can. "Due to the fact the roads were damaged, and the stores are inaccessible, I'm unable to open."

Adding to the struggle, the family didn’t have flood coverage, but they did have interruption of business coverage.

Still, their claims were denied. "They're saying that the interruption of business is due to flood. We did not have flood insurance, therefore we are not covered."

Kristi Lehnert says it’s especially frustrating because the only real damage is loss of business. "My buildings are perfectly fine. If I had roads today on 34 and 36, I would be open for business, and I wouldn’t be standing here in this parking lot."

Even if they did have flood insurance, though, it typically only covers physical damage. Now, with few options and many customers, the family is literally climbing mountains to sell their product. Anthony Lehnert says he and his son, “mountain biked over four miles to get into our Loveland store with back packs, and we brought some stuff out.”

He said some customers have requests for items still up in their isolated shops, so he doesn’t mind bringing, “jams and jellies and ciders in my backpack if people want it."

The hope now is that the community stops by their new tent to pick up a lot of their signature treats.

The family has also applied for help from the Small Business Administration, but in order to receive any assistance, SBA representatives need to visit the shops in person. Something that’s nearly impossible, with both highways closed.

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