Aug. 5 was a big day in Red Feather Lakes: The Red Feather Trading Post was back in the business of pumping gas.
The only pumps within a 45-mile radius offering 24/7 petrol had been shut down for nearly a year. Owners Scott Porciuncula and his partner, Georgia Robedeau, were took over the Trading Post in January 2015, were anxious to pump the first gas from their newly-updated fueling system.
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The Trading Post, open since 1924, has been the go-to spot for food, snacks, gifts, hardware, automotive supplies, DVD rentals and souvenirs in Red Feather Lakes Village for decades. When an annual state inspection revealed the poor condition of the current fueling system, the new owners were the first to agree that it needed to be shut down. The well-being of the community was at risk because the Trading Post’s antiquated single-wall system threatened to contaminate nearby waterways and there was the risk of fire as well.
The critical nature of the ability to pump gas 24/7 was brought home to residents and firefighters alike in September, when the Bear Trap Fire broke out near Crystal Lakes after hours. Emergency equipment had no way to get gas until the owners of the only other gas station in town were contacted and prevailed upon to open. “I knew them, and I knew where they were,” Porciuncula said. “Who knows what might have happened if they hadn’t been available to provide gas?”
The price tag for repairs to the Trading Post’s tanks was close to $100,000 and when Porciuncula and Robedeau applied for a bank loan, it was a no-go. Bankers realized they would never be able to re-possess fuel tanks. They could not justify the risk unless they set a rate of re-payment at $9,000 a month — an amount the Trading Post could not possibly live with.
If they had the support of the community, Porciuncula reasoned, the bank might be more willing to help. Nine months ago he and Robedeau initiated GoFundMe campaign and by mid-summer 75 people had used the online tool to donate $8,530 — a show of local support strong enough to convince the bankers to make the Trading Post a loan they could live with.
“The community support has been wonderful,” Porciuncula said.
The aging single-wall tanks have been replaced with new fire-rated double-wall tanks that are safer, more secure and fitted to find and prevent leaks. Round-the-clock gas is once again available in Red Feather. The Fire Department and emergency vehicles know they have an always-open source of fuel.
The Trading Post doesn’t make much money on the gas they sell but they view the commodity as a service to the community. And when visitors and residents alike stop to refuel, more often than not, they’ll slip into the Trading Post for a souvenir or a snack. The 500 year-round residents and the 8,000 people who grow the population of Red Feather Lakes during the summer months can’t imagine the village without the iconic Red Feather Trading Post.
Porciuncula and Robedeau haven’t had a day off since the end of 2014. They are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. “364.5 days of the year. We take a half-day off on Christmas,” he said.
Are they planning a vacation in 2016? “No,” Porciuncula says, “but you never know.”
What they do know, they said, is that they live and work in a community that cares about them as much as they care about Red Feather Lakes.