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Celebrate Steamboat small businesses by ringing in the holidays

Shoppers crowd the sidewalks along Lincoln Avenue as part of Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. The store are hoping for more customers Saturday as part of Small Business Saturday, a program backed by American Express to bring attention to the many smaller retailers that provide services, products to our local communities.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Saturday, Dec. 1, is a day to support your neighbor, a day to support your community and a day to shop at a local business as Steamboat Springs, and many other community in the nation celebrate Small Business Saturday.

“I think that the concept is awesome,” said Murray Selleck, one of the managers at Ski Haus located at 1457 Pine Grove Road. “Personally, I try to shop locally as often as humanly possible. I would much rather support stores in town where I know that money is staying in town, versus clicking and shopping.”

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to bring attention to many of the smaller businesses in local communities that run retail outlets, restaurants and other businesses.

“It’s one of the busiest Saturdays of the year,” said Lisa Popovich, executive director of Main Street Steamboat Springs. “We don’t really have a lot of big boxes here around us so Friday’s pretty busy, too. But Saturday is always busier and it’s a day not only to go shopping, but it’s a day to see your neighbors downtown and experienced the community.”

At the time Small Business Saturday was started many of the smaller businesses on main streets across the country were still reeling from the housing bust in 2008 and feeling the impacts of the recession that followed. The day proved to be a huge success, and last year, Small Business Saturday helped drive $17.8 billion in sales according to American Express.

Popovich said the holiday sales are often the difference for the merchants in our community who are the ones donating to our local nonprofits, who provide jobs and help drive our economy. She also says that statistics show that 67 cents of every dollar spent locally stays in the community. In Steamboat, Popovich thinks that number might be closer to 80 cents of every dollar because local businesses often contribute to local nonprofits.

“It’s the time of year that kind of gives our businesses that extra push to get into the black. It’s the push that keeps their doors open, especially in a town like ours where our seasons are so different than the rest of the country,” Popovich said.

She added that Steamboat often has busy winter and summer seasons, but also experiences big dips in the spring and fall.

“There are large peaks and valleys,” she said. “So this is that last little push before we get to the new year really helps keep those doors open for another year.”

Shop local; support local

Bridget Kelly, manager at Steamboat Ace Hardware, a locally owned business at 2155 Curve Plaza., is also a fan of Small Business Saturday — not just for the sales, but the message it sends.

“I think it’s awesome and helps to remind people that small businesses is what employs people in this town and that by shopping locally, you’re supporting that,” Kelly said.

For her Small Business Saturday, which comes on the heels of Black Friday, is just another reason to get excited about a time of year that drives retail sales across the country.

“I love it,” Kelly said of holidays. “Everybody comes in, everybody’s in a good mood and you get to catch up with people you haven’t seen in forever. You see customers milling around talking to each other and catching up and it’s just a fun, festive time of year — it is a special time of year.”

Kris Allen, with Allen’s Clothing & Accessories at 828 Lincoln Ave., was all smiles as he delivered a size to a waiting customer. Allens has been celebrating the holidays in Steamboat for generations starting with his great grandfather and grandfather who started the business 70 years ago before passing it along to Kris’s dad.

Local businesses in Steamboat Springs are grateful for Small Business Saturday, which brings attention to the contributions of stores, restaurants and other businesses that add to, and support out communities.
John F. Russell

“It’s a great start,” Allen said of the holiday season so far. “We had people calling right at 8 a.m. Friday to see if we were open, and they really seem to be chomping at the bit. … December is always a massive month because of Christmas.”

On Friday, customers filled Allen’s in search of the perfect gifts. This year because Thanksgiving fell so late, customers will only have 26 days to shop. That means it will be an extra busy holiday season for Allen and other business owners in Steamboat.

“People are always typically in a good mood and having fun,” Allen said. “It’s obviously really busy, but you get to see everybody in town which makes it more special.”

On Friday Ty Lockhart, whose family has owned the FM Light & Sons store at 830 Lincoln Ave. for 115 years, was also looking forward to the start of another holiday season.

“This time of year is always a lot of fun,” Lockhart said. “People are out trying to find gifts for the ones they love, and they always seem to be in a really good mood.”

On Friday, FM Light & Sons was busy, but Lockhart said he expects to see even more people when the flights start coming into Yampa Valley Regional Airport in the middle of December.

As far a Small Business Saturday, he is happy that someone is recognizing small businesses and the good things they provide in towns like Steamboat. He knows stores like his are not only the perfect place to pick up a holiday gift, but also provide our town with jobs, taxes and, in many cases, a sense of community that makes Steamboat the kind of place people want to visit and the kind of a place where they want to live.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.


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