Black Friday with a Steamboat twist
Steady, often snow-focused business replaces big city madness
November 27, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Long lines of customers, insane deals and perfect people-watching conditions have come to define the post-Thanksgiving Day shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday. And for the most part, they're left to the big cities.
But Steamboat Springs wasn't excluded from the money-making potential of Black Friday. In typical Steamboat fashion, things were a little slower and minds often were focused on skiing and snow.
"Things have been awesome," said Jonathan Finnegan, at Christy Sports. "It's been busier than last year, for sure, which is what we'd expect having more snow."
For local ski and sports shops, Friday's rush was more related to the snow and this week's opening of Steamboat Ski Area than it was any post-turkey anomalies.
Many local retailers didn't do anything special to capitalize on Black Friday. Some did, though usually not as extreme as opening in the early morning hours to hordes of eager shoppers, as is typical in larger cities.
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Straightline Sports in downtown Steamboat kicked off a three-day sale Friday that knocks 25 percent off everything in the store. The deals enticed shoppers — the store was busy as could be at 2 p.m. — but didn't seem to change buyers' early morning habits.
"People here don't get up and come out until 10 a.m.," Straightline's Michael Boatwright said. "We open at 8 a.m. every day. It was a pretty typical 8 a.m. opening this morning. There were a couple of people, but not much."
That changed as the day went on, he said. Shoppers were taking advantage of deals on higher-end footwear and other big-ticket items.
Buying early is best policy this season, he suggested.
"If there's anything you just have to buy this year, you'd better do it quick," Boatwright said. "We hope to get a read on stuff that people like so hopefully we can replace it before Christmas, but that might be tough. Inventories with most of the manufacturers are running really tight — way more so than usual."
Even if most local retailers kept to their usual hours, Steamboat wasn't without its small dose of crack-of-dawn shopping.
The local Sears, Walmart and Staples stores all opened early.
Local Sears franchise owner Jim Hansen was exhausted by the middle of the afternoon but said a steady pace to his day — which started at 2:30 a.m. — and generally cheery customers helped keep him standing.
The store was supposed to open at 4 a.m., but employees who arrived at 2:30 a.m. let in two men who already were waiting.
They fed the customers biscuits and gravy and sent them on their way with the washer and dryer sets they'd been looking for.
It was nonstop, but manageable, the rest of the day.
"It was a comfortable Steamboat pace all day," Hansen said. "There were no elbows, no pushing. We have very courteous customers and a very tired staff."
Special early morning deals that expired at noon had the store packed at times.
Another round of similar specials at the store is on tap today, and other sale prices are good throughout the weekend.
"Washers, dryers, fridges, freezers, snowblowers and tools all went out the door this morning," Hansen said.
"This was my first Black Friday. It's been a pleasure because we've had so many smiling customers."
Local shopping encouraged today at small businesses
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs is encouraging shoppers to support local businesses today for the inaugural, nationwide "Small Business Saturday."
The campaign is being promoted by American Express, which is offering its cardholders a $25 credit if they spend $25 or more today at qualified small businesses.
The credit is specifically for purchases made at independently owned businesses that accept American Express cards. Visit http://www.smallbusinesssaturday.com for details.
The Small Business Saturday initiative said supporting local businesses creates jobs and keeps money in local communities.