Our View: Consider shopping locally this holiday season


Editorial Board, February 2009 through May 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Paul Hughes, community representative
  • Gail Smith, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Mother Nature didn't exactly cooperate with the inaugural Merry Mainstreet event held Saturday in downtown Steamboat Springs, but the celebration nonetheless achieved the desired effect: attracting foot traffic to the downtown shopping district.

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs and its merchant members have taken a proactive approach to encouraging local shopping this holiday season. This year's "Downtown Bound" campaign was introduced by Epilogue Book Co. owner Erica Fogue and inspired by Indie Bound, which promotes independent bookstores.

The campaign, which emphasizes the community and economic benefits of shopping locally, is particularly important in difficult economic times. Money spent in Steamboat and Routt County is more likely to remain in Steamboat and Routt County, thus supporting the local work force by helping employers keep jobs in place. Money spent locally also contributes to sales tax revenues, the principal source of the city of Steamboat Springs' general operating revenues.

Although we similarly encourage residents to consider shopping for holiday gifts at local stores this year, we understand that the decision to shop locally is part of a two-way street. Consumers understandably want to stretch their dollars as much as possible, particularly in a struggling economy. Purchasing an item in a local store that can be found cheaper online or on the Front Range is a tough sell to many budget-conscious shoppers. At the end of the day, we're a community that thrives on market decisions - the decision of whether to purchase items from a local merchant being no different than a vacationer deciding to invest their money in a vacation to Northwest Colorado.

Therefore, the challenge for local retailers is to offer desirable products at a reasonable price. Tourists always will be attracted to T-shirt shops and other retailers offering Steamboat-specific merchandise, but locals are a more difficult customer to please.

With that in mind, we hope all residents consider purchasing at least some of their gifts from local merchants this holiday season. Take an evening to stroll downtown Steamboat and poke your head in some of the new and repositioned storefronts. And don't be afraid to open your wallet to purchase a good product accompanied by friendly service.

There undoubtedly will be some items on your gift list that can't be found in Routt County. But for the ones that can, we encourage you to take a thoughtful approach to shopping locally and keeping your hard-earned dollars circulating in the local economy.


canudigit 8 years, 4 months ago

This year I have tried to shop locally. However, I have had a really hard time spending my money in Steamboat. Granted, some of the "local" shopping I have done is at Wal-Mart but, it seems that everything I want/need I cannot find here in Steamboat.
Toddler Boots size 5- only in the girls version at Wal-mart and none anywhere else and I looked all over downtown. Wii video game system- sold out.
Nalgene sippy cup- only one left in a boy color- I needed two.
Game Boy advance pokemon games- not in Steamboat. I have tried to spend my money in town but it has been really hard!!

I have been downtown several times and had no luck for the item I was looking for- anyone know where I can find a spoon rest- you know the thing you put your dirty spoon on when cooking? I looked today for some sort of Colorado or Steamboat spoon rest- no dice.
The only thing I found that I actually thought was a good deal and could get here locally was some cookware at ACE- is that even considered shopping locally since that is a national chain?

I would love to spend my money here but unless I am in the market for Smartwool, it seems that my choices are so limited that I have to order online. I wish our community could support some other shops besides the t-shirt type and the ski shops.

Incidentally, my kids loved the Merry Main Street celebration- really a fun community thing- what a great idea.

I just wish the shops offered things that real people who live here need- I don't need any more t-shirts, indian jewelry or interior decorations. I need video games, a better toy selection than Wal-mart, clothes that fit me that don't cost a fortune. I need Bakugan toys that are actually in-stock. I need a store that sells Hockey gear that isn't top of the line and really expensive but, has better choices than Sports Authority. Until the stores have items that I need, I will have to shop online. The only thing I can find in town without fail is books. The bookstores will order what they don't have and I think that is great.


Scott Wedel 8 years, 4 months ago

The shop locally and preventing leakage programs fail to distinguish between what really keeps money in the area vs what keeps sales tax and nothing more in the area.

Shopping at Walmart and other corporate chains keeps very little money in the area.

Buying something locally made keeps most of the money in the area.

Eating at a locally owned restaurant keeps almost all of the money in the area.

Using local professionals, consultants, engineers, lawyers and so on keeps almost all of the money in the area. It annoys me to no end that we have this campaign to buy locally and meanwhile we routinely use Front Range consultants.


aichempty 8 years, 4 months ago

As one who has been here and done that, there is very little profit leaving town to stuff the coffers in corporate headquarters. Labor costs are the highest single cost of doing business, and that money stays in town until it goes off through the internet to buy stuff.

Salaries for workers, utility costs, commercial rentals and sales taxes all come back to the community. The place where we lose out is that the old "good" jobs (being a business owner) that provided a decent home and standard of living for the middle class have been wiped out by chains like Wal-Mart and McDonald's who undercut local merchant's prices and eliminate the competition. We have what the "locals" support, and that's chain store cheap.


Steve Lewis 8 years, 4 months ago

Choosing a locally owned store can make a big difference for the local economy.

Separate studies in Maine and Austin Texas found the same thing: Of a dollar spent, a locally owned store keeps about 45 cents in the local economy, a chain store keeps about 14 cents of that dollar local.

Much of your dollar obviously goes to the actual cost of the product made elsewhere. The difference I note about relates to local managers, local banking, consulting, graphic designers etc...

If you can buy it here, please do. Even if it costs a little more, you are increasing the flow of local money that will circle back into your own businesses.


Julie Green 8 years, 4 months ago

I used to be a retailer here in town and I always try to shop locally as much as I can and sometimes Steamboat is just too small to have everything every local might want. What we can do is take a little time to walk around and see what our local merchants have. I do my share of internet shopping and I have to admit, it can be very time consuming. It's fun to walk around town, see friends and neighbors and see what is available right here. And by the way, Ace may be a franchise but it is locally owned by Joy and Denny Swanson, who happen to be wonderful members of our community and very generous to our local non-profits; as are many of our local merchants. Thanks to everyone who makes local purchases; I know it was very important to me when that retail store was my sole source of income. Julie Green


cookie 8 years, 4 months ago

I always consider shopping locally and do quite often. Iwish the city would consider "shopping locally" when it comes to hiring for city projects. I can't tell you how often I see out of town contractors working on city projects. Why do you want that money to leave the valley? Let's address this issue. City projects should go to local companies. Maybe a bit more expensive due to the cost of living? Well I purchase items locally that I can get for less in Denver or on-line. Shop locally means more than buying Xmas presents in town!


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