Our View: Keeping the lights on
July 20, 2011
Steamboat Springs — While the city of Steamboat Springs has been grappling with a revised noise ordinance that attempts to accommodate entertainment venues as well as their residential neighbors, the leaders of Steamboat's downtown business organization have been pushing an important effort of their own: encouraging retailers to keep the lights on — and the doors open — into the evening hours.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs and its leader, Tracy Barnett, have ramped up efforts to urge downtown business owners to operate past 6 p.m. during the busy summer and winter tourism seasons. The goal is simple and worthwhile — to keep potential customers happy and spending money. Ideally, there's a benefit for the business owners, too, in the form of increased revenue.
Some, like Zirkel Trading's Steve Hitchcock and F.M. Light & Sons Del Lockhart, say a significant amount of their business is generated after 6 p.m. Barnett believes the same could be true for other downtown businesses if they simply gave extended hours a try.
"People have said they've tried staying open later and it doesn't work, but you have to do it consistently for a certain amount of time so people know you're going to be open," Barnett told the Steamboat Today last week.
She suggests that businesses that close at 6 p.m. try staying open until at least 8 p.m. a couple of nights a week to gauge the business potential. We think it makes a lot of sense for our downtown shopping district to keep the lights on for folks roaming Lincoln Avenue before and after dinner or on the way to other evening entertainment venues.
Barnett equates the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs mission to that of the manager of a shopping mall. Urging business practices that keep the customer experience at the fore not only makes shoppers happy, but often benefits the retailers as well.
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It's not our job to tell businesses what to do, and for some it simply might not make sense financially to stay open a couple hours later some days of the week. But it is to the community and downtown's benefit to create a vibrant shopping and entertainment experience. Closed stores during busy summer and winter evenings create the opposite. Kudos to Barnett and other Mainstreet Steamboat Springs leaders for pushing the issue.