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Nov 30, 2011 8:27 PM by Matt Stafford

Fighting to stay open

A nearly 10-year-old Colorado Springs small business is in jeopardy of being the next victim of this tough economy, but not if its next door neighbor has anything to do about it.

For the last 12 years Linda Estrada has been in business helping all sorts of painters at her stores, Brush Strokes Ceramic Studios. Now there's only one left open out of three - open for nine years. That's in the shopping center at South Rockrimmon Boulevard and Vindicator Drive.

Three years ago business started dropping off for Estrada; each year after, it just got worse.

"But this year, this year has been absolutely horrible," says Estrada.

Now she's behind $15,000 in rent.

"You know you just don't go around talking about that with everybody," says Estrada. "I just tucked my tail between my legs and decided to quit; I thought there's no way."

That's until she got a little help - from right next door.

"Now I have hope," says Estrada.

"I talked to her and said, 'Hey Linda, can I help?'" explains Joey Suntken, owner of the Squeak Soda Shop.

"I don't want you to go out without a fight."

Suntken has been next door to Estrada for two and a half years; he knows how those years have been on small business owners.

"It's tough for all of us and if you're not willing to go help a neighbor that's in a small business just like you, then what good are you?" asks Suntken.

Suntken started sending out emails to his customers - about 1,700 - and passing out flyers; trying to generate business for Brush Strokes. He's even offering discounts at his store for shopping next door at Estrada's. So far they've seen it paying off.

"People have been coming in just trying to give me money," says Estrada. "I don't want money, I just want them to come and paint."

It's not going to be easy; in fact Estrada's not even sure if they can do it at all. They have to have a third of the money - $5,000 - by Sunday.

"I have never ever done $15,000 in one month; this is really going to be a miracle if we can pull it off."

"If nothing else, we'll go out with a bang," Estrada says, but in the mean time they'll give it their best shot.

For more on Brush Strokes, you can visit their website by clicking here.

 

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