Sales off to a strong start


— The early birds got the laptops.

The holiday shopping season began just before 4 a.m. Friday, when several cars sat in Wal-Mart's parking lot, filled with customers waiting in pre-dawn darkness to snag such holiday deals as Hewlett-Packard Pavilion laptops on sale for $378, store manager Mark Meade said.

When he opened the doors at 5 a.m., more than 100 people were standing outside, he said.

"I've been here for nine years, and I have never let that many people inside in the morning before," Meade said. "This is the largest crowd I've ever had, for any event, ever."

The laptops went quick.

"I had 15 of them, and they lasted about 70 seconds," he said.

On "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the consumer rush continued well into the afternoon at stores across Steamboat.

"It's been busy," said Tod Allen, owner of Allen's clothing store on Lincoln Avenue. "Virtually everything in the store is on sale."

Allen is capitalizing on the holiday rush with an anniversary sale, the store's biggest sale of the year. With discounts on items including SmartWool socks and Tommy Bahama shirts, Allen said the sale would last another week.

Tracy Barnett, manager of Main Street Steamboat Springs, was in line at Wal-Mart on Friday.

"I did go downtown first," Barnett said, citing purchases at Allen's, Lyon's Corner Drug & Soda Fountain and Paradise Found.

Barnett said she came to Wal-Mart to get a few more things -- such as a doll for her 4-year-old granddaughter, Mariam.

"She was bugging me for it," Barnett said with a laugh.

Many stores along Lincoln Avenue, Oak Street and Yampa Street began a two-week promotion Friday called "Downtown First," Barnett said. Participating stores will take entries for raffles until Dec. 13, when winners will be drawn for prizes, including gift certificates ranging in value from $10 to $50.

"The point of it is to shop downtown before going online or to Denver," she said, noting that no purchase is necessary to enter the raffles and that people can enter as often as they like. "The idea is to get people in the stores."

Raffle winners will be announced in the Steamboat Today on Dec. 15.

Stores downtown looked to be off to a good start Friday, as clear skies and temperatures in the 40s drew many shoppers to Lincoln Avenue.

Amanda Skram of Denver carried big bags from F.M. Light & Sons, Moose Mountain Trading Co. and Allen's. Skram, who is in town until Sunday to visit friends, said she was starting her Christmas shopping early.

"And hopefully finishing early, too," she said.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or email


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