LAKEWOOD, Colo. — On May 8, 2017, the western Denver metro area was pummeled by the costliest hailstorm in state history. At the center of the storm was Colorado Mills, a 1.1 million-square-foot mall in Lakewood.
Pennie Gaudi, the owner of the local artisan store A Borgata, was in California when her store manager called her.
"She's like, 'There's water everywhere,'" Gaudi remembers. "I said, 'Shut the door and get out.'"
Most of Colorado Mills was shuttered for six months. There were around 200 stores or restaurants at Colorado Mills at the time of the storm. Today, 130 are open. The exact number of employees who lost their jobs is unclear, but it's likely in the hundreds or thousands. Job fairs were held specifically for Colorado Mills employees.
Many workers who lost their jobs have since moved on, but some have returned. Pennie Gaudi welcomed back two former employees.
"I called them up and said, "We're open, do you want to come back?' And they said, 'Absolutely,'" Gaudi said.
A Borgata has also welcomed back all of the Colorado artisans and craftsmen who sell goods in the store. Gaudi says many of her vendors were excited to return to the Lakewood location.
Getting customers back is another challenge. Gaudi says traffic in the evenings has been pretty slow.
"Unfortunately there's still people thinking we're not open, that we just opened for Christmas. Well we're open, give us a shot," she said.