Steamboat Springs It's the end of the line for Ski Time Square.
Businesses are moving into the final weekend of their final ski season in the shopping and dining spot at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. The Atira Group and Washington, D.C.-based Cafritz Interests will demolish the square this summer to redevelop the area.
Some businesses plan to close for good after the last push, and others will hang on for a few more weeks.
"My sales are going to continue until the end of April or until I run out of things to sell," said Bill Auer, who owns the Wine Rack. He is joining retailers, including Powder Divas, Steamboat Trading Co. and Powder Pursuits, in a massive sale today through Sunday.
Business owners expressed mixed feelings about turning out the lights one last time. Many face uncertain futures.
"It's kind of like being in limbo," said Auer, who has run the Wine Rack for 15 years. "It's partly frustrating and partly a relief because it's over. There's no more waiting."
The land's redevelopers had considered delaying demolition for part of the square to give some businesses one more season. That possibility was ruled out because of sprinkler system concerns, Atira Group officials said last month.
Auer said he wasn't sure whether he would try to reopen elsewhere or get a spot in the incoming development. His liquor license is for the Ski Time Square area, he said, which would make relocation tricky.
Tugboat Grill & Pub has a lease through August and appears to be the last holdout. Saturday is the restaurant's final day of ski season, and it is set to reopen for summer at the end of May.
Steamboat Trading Co. will probably close after Monday, owner Erich Esswein said, but that depends on how much merchandise he moves this weekend. The store's windows are splashed with signs advertising the going-out-of-business sale and discounts of as much as 70 percent.
"I'm just happy that they're at least giving me till the end of May to get out," Esswein said. "If I had just till the end of April, it would have been difficult to do. : I have to transfer the phones, the mail - it's not just a matter of clearing a few racks out and calling it good."
This summer also is the end of the line for The Butcher Shop, a steakhouse that has called Ski Time Square home for more than 35 years. Other Ski Time Square businesses include Steamboat Mountain Theater, Jade Summit and Pirate's Pub and Lupo's bar, among others.
Powder Divas and Powder Pursuits, which are holding sales this weekend, plan to close afterward. The Knitch is closed for summer and seeking a new location, according to the shop's answering machine. It was listed in an ad as one of the stores holding weekend sales.
Despite the discounts, the customer mood has been blue, Esswein, Auer and Powder Divas Manager Wendy Allen said.
"Most of them are very disappointed that Ski Time Square is going to disappear," Auer said. "These are people who've been coming here for years and years. They're not just locals; there are people from around the country that are very disappointed."
Powder Divas is owned by Christy Sports, Allen said, so the store is going to relocate into the Christy location at the Clock Tower until owners find a permanent location.
Allen said it could be tough for smaller retailers to relocate. But change is inevitable, she said.
"You can either embrace it, or I guess live in denial," she said.
Auer and Esswein said they had fond memories of the neighborhood and their neighbors. Auer said he loved summer on the square, when he would barbecue in front of the store every weekend.
He urged Steamboat residents to swing by and say farewell.
"This weekend and the next several weeks, there's going to be a lot of closeout business," Auer said. "So people from downtown ought to come up and take a last look at Ski Time Square."