CST seeks businesses to participate in card program

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Participating businesses will receive signage to help promote the CST discount program.

The nonprofit fire-victim assistance organization, Colorado Springs Together, is asking businesses to participate in a discount shopping-card program that will aid 1,700 families affected by the fire.

CST, a partnership among the city, community organizations and business owners, aims to aid victims while bolstering local business, said spokesman John Henry.

He said the number of businesses signed up to participate in the program is small (a handful so far) and growing slowly.

The group is asking business owners in industries ranging from construction to restaurants and bars to sign on and offer a 20 percent — or equivalent — discount to fire victims who will receive the discount cards.

“We realize for some small businesses, that 20 percent will be hard,” Henry said. “We will absolutely make allowances for business owners if they can find something to offer that will work.”

He encourages business owners who want to participate, but don’t know if they can afford a 20 percent discount, to call and talk with the organization leaders about what they can offer.

Homeowners who suffered loss will have to replace everything from furniture to sporting goods, Henry said. It’s estimated that the typical homeowner will spend about $200,000.

And while insurance checks will cover much of the expense, those belongings are depreciated on most insurers’ books.

“And there’s a gap,” Henry said.

The nonprofit isn’t just looking for construction or home furnishing offers, Henry said.

“A night on the town doesn’t really factor into that total, but it sure is good for mental health,” he said.

While it might not be easy for business owners, who also have been hard hit by the fire to offer big discounts, the card and associated advertising will help local retailers draw extra business, Henry said.

Chris Lobato, who owns Old World Stone Mantel, signed up to participate.

He lives in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, and while his home was not burned, he knows people who lost everything.

“In the construction industry, 20 percent is a bit difficult because the margins are tight anyway,” he said.

But he’s a specialty contractor and doesn’t expect to get so much business from the card that he won’t be able to afford to help.

“It’s been a hard time for the construction industry and everyone is hungry for work,” Lobato said. “We were fortunate enough to survive the terrible downturn. We sympathize for the people who have lost everything and we have an opportunity to create a little beauty.”