Steamboat shoppers hit downtown for sales
Number of shoppers high, but Black Friday sales typically small
November 28, 2009
Steamboat Springs — The idea of Black Friday, with throngs of sales-frenzied, elbow-throwing shoppers beating down retailer doors, doesn't quite hold up in Steamboat Springs.
The kickoff to the Christmas holiday shopping season was humming, however, as parking spaces along the shopping district of Lincoln Avenue gradually filled by the afternoon, and business owners reported brisk traffic.
"Typically, it's not a big deal," Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said. "Things don't really start until the time the flights start, although when I was downtown, I was seeing a lot of bags. I was surprised."
In the early afternoon, F.M. Light & Sons was bustling with shoppers and a line at the register as the store started a four-day sale. Supervisor Peggy Pagliano said the business had good foot traffic all day but that sales tended to be smaller items.
"I would say they're not your high-end items. More of your socks, your Carhartts," she said. "Not the boots or that type of stuff."
Across the street, Steve Kennedy, owner of the Homesteader, said he saw many of the same trends, both on Black Friday and the entire week.
In the days leading to Thanksgiving, Kennedy said, the ratio of cash to credit cards heavily favored cash, much more than during previous years. The items shoppers were buying also tended to be smaller, he said.
"We can definitely use it as a barometer for how the rest of the year will go," he said, but Black Friday doesn't even rank in the top 15 sales days of the year for his business.
The biggest days, he said, are the several before Christmas, when last-minute shoppers fill the store.
Barnett said that fits the overall trend, with the week before Christmas seeing the busiest traffic of the year because the town is full of tourists, and locals are buying last-minute gifts.
Tod Allen, of Allen's Clothing, said his store bucks the slow Black Friday trend by offering discounts as part of an annual anniversary sale. He said his store's overall sales increased compared with the end of November last year, and a busy start to the anniversary sale was looking good.
Urbane Manager Kelly Proudley said her store recently ended its first-year anniversary sale, as well, but that the sales brought in good business and Black Friday shoppers continued to stream in.
Several other stores along Lincoln Avenue offered Black Friday sales, too, and the larger stores such as Walmart and Staples offered typical chain-store discounts.
Barnett said those play a role in Steamboat but not as much as in other parts of the country.
"All the big chains are trying to outdo each other (to draw the biggest crowds), but not in Steamboat," she said. "People are more interested in skiing."