Choke Cherry Tree

By Malia Durbano

Jenelle Syverson got hired at the Choke Cherry Tree as a temporary employee for the Christmas season of 2003. Still an employee, the opportunity arose for her to purchase the business in January of 2014.

She loved the store and the customers, and had learned a great deal, but her Associates Degree in Micro- Computer Support from Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, didn’t prepare her for owning a retail business.

Choke Cherry Tree, a gourmet specialty foods store features homemade caramels, toffees, jams, jellies, sauces and salsas. Their signature Vinaigrette is made with the Choke Cherries that grow wild in Pagosa Springs. Jenelle carries scone mixes, dips, soup mixes, specialty olive oils, kitchen gadgets and gift baskets.

Jenelle contacted Joe Keck for help. She asked him if it was a good idea for her to buy the business, what problems needed to be addressed and how much was it worth? Joe invited Rich Lindblad to work with them to answer those questions.

The team went through the taxes and expense reports to determine a fair market value for the business. They analyzed expenses and profit margins and made suggestions. The most valuable information Jenelle feels she gained was, “Determining a reasonable cost for the business and having an accurate assessment of the financials. You can’t go anywhere if you don’t know where you are starting.”

The business which relies primarily on tourism, was located on the far west side of Pagosa. Jenelle moved to a new location in the strip mall behind McDonalds, across from City Market on May 23, this year. The home made delicacies are also very tempting for the residents of the nearby Wyndham Resort . Jenelle appreciates her many local repeat customers who also bring out of town guests in looking for souvenirs to bring home.

Rich Lindblad attended the Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting performed by the Pagosa Chamber on June 21. Rich assisted Jenelle in choosing her the new location which is larger and more efficient – “allowing more than two people to be in the kitchen at the same time.” The large kitchen affords her increased production and saved her money by eliminating the storage unit which was off-site.

The new location providing so many benefits is at 56 Talisman Drive # 8C. Stop in to say Hi and have some free samples of the homemade goodies! Jenelle is very friendly and welcoming.

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