A History of Gifting Back
Opened in 1999, The Choke Cherry Tree’s history is rooted over 8 decades ago, when a young teen, William (Bill) Goddard, was taught by his grandmother to make jams and jellies. After that Bill, known as “Grandpa Bill” in his later years, if he gave a gift he made it - jams and jellies. Eventually he set up a fruit stand in Pagosa Springs and made the jams and jellies from his overripes. Eventually he was selling more jams and jellies than fruit so he and his partner, Connie Bunte, opened the retail store using his recipes to develop the store’s specialty food products. The caramels came about in the early 2000s, during a winter when there was no snow on the local mountains and as a result, no skiers coming to shop. So, to pass the time Bill picked up a book on candy making and developed the much-loved caramel recipe.
Not long thereafter, Bill met Jenelle Syverson, who was working at a local business where he frequented regularly to stay up on the latest gossip. He noticed her initiative and that she was being underutilized, and with the holidays fast approaching and in need for additional staff, asked her if she would help him out for the season. So she was hired as temporary help for the holidays before she had the baby in January.
It did not take long for Bill to notice Jenelle was the fastest caramel wrapper he had ever seen. So, after her son was born, he told her to just take the caramels home and wrap them. Six months later they needed more help in the store so Bill said to “just bring the kid” so Jenelle learned how to do all the cooking with a child on her back.
Fast forward 10 years. Jenelle had become a single mother and knew she could not be the kind of mother she wanted to be getting paid by the hour so it was time for a new plan that would allow for chaperoning field trips and volunteering at the school and in the community with her son. Knowing Connie was looking to retire, she asked what they could work out to allow her to take over The Choke Cherry Tree and carry on its legacy. As her son was maturing and becoming independent, she reallized that along with raising him, becoming the store owner was because “the world has a bigger plan for me. I now get to connect people on a deeper level.”
From the initial storefront in Pagosa Springs, to its now expanded line of on-line products and gift baskets, Jenelle and her team are committed to sharing the love that has been the heart and soul of The Choke Cherry Tree since 1999. And knowing how busy people’s lives are these days, they continue to seek ways to give back.
Their beloved personalized gift baskets (also great corporate gifts) are designed to ease the stress around gifting – to clients, employees, and customers – by making your lives easier (and make you look really good) through unique, turn-key gift baskets that include a personal note, wrapping, shipping, and delivery. Oh, and they will also keep track of these important dates to give you your time back so you don’t have to. What’s not to love?