Countdown for holiday shopping draws near as downtown retailers in Steamboat Springs brace for last-minute rush
Just six days remaining until Christmas, retailers in downtown Steamboat Springs were reporting steady December business on Monday, Dec. 19, as they anticipated seeing the normal rush of shoppers down the holiday stretch.
“I am expecting it to be very busy this week, and I think Saturday’s going to be crazy,” said Ashley Edinburg, owner of Embellishments (The Steamboat Art Co.) at 903 Lincoln Ave. “On Saturday, we will start trying to kick the men out around 5 o’clock because men are typically the only people we see shopping at 5 o’clock on Christmas Eve.”
Edinburg said the holiday shopping season normally begins around Thanksgiving, when she and her staff decorate and make sure they stock up on items she knows the customers will want for gifts.
Edinburg was one of several downtown retailers that has seen a steady flow of costumers coming into the store in search of gifts since that time. The businesses all expect the pace to pick up this week.
“Business has been steady, but we have not seen anything outrageous yet,” said Peter Gudolawicz a manager at F.M. Light and Sons at 830 Lincoln Ave. “I think that today (Monday) is definitely showing signs of picking up, and I think by Wednesday, all heck’s going to break loose.”
On Monday, there were plenty of shoppers combing through the racks of apparel, hats, boots, footwear, gloves and many other items at F.M. Light, hoping to find the perfect gift to place under the tree. The store will be open this week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., but plans to close at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.
The good news is that both F.M. Light and Embellishments offer gift wrapping, which means that customers purchasing those last-minute gifts have one less thing to think about.
Kris Allen, whose family first opened Allen’s Clothing in 1949, joked that he planned to spend his lunch searching for a few final gifts himself. He said he has been busy helping customers inside the downtown store at 828 Lincoln Ave. for several weeks now and if traffic continues to pick up, by the end of the week, he is likely to become one of the last-minute shoppers that he has been trying to help.
“Business is keeping up with where we want to be,” said Allen, who has also seen a steady stream of customers the past few weeks. “I think it’s going to be very busy all the way to Christmas, and then through New Years Day.”
He said the store has a strong local following and is a popular stop for visitors. Popular items this season include KÜHL jeans, outerwear and apparel, and he added that Smartwool and Point6 socks are an always popular stocking stuffer. Allen’s is open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. through Friday. On Saturday, Christmas Eve, he plans to close the store at 5:30 p.m., so he and his staff can go home and be with family.
Just down the street at 708 Lincoln Ave., Elevated Olive of Steamboat owners June Lindenmayer and Carol Johnson said they have been busy for several weeks, creating gift packages and helping customers who come into their store looking for a unique gift ideas.
“We’re probably not as busy as last year, but we’re comparable,” Lindenmayer said. “We are going to have a busy week — we got basket orders, special orders, plus just regular retail.”
The specialty food store offers more than 50 of the world’s finest extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, complemented with numerous distinctive salts, exotic mustards, marinades, imported pastas and a delicious assortment of olives.
Shoppers will also find kitchen essentials, gift items, cookbooks and a local section of honey, tea, hot sauce and coconut macaroons, as well as a back section that includes an assortment of Colorado wines, spirits and beers, including a few from Steamboat Springs.
Retailers in Steamboat have been in a race for more than four weeks, and most are looking forward to reaching the finish line this Saturday — the final day to purchase holiday gifts.
“Christmas is just being on the floor, talking to people, visiting with locals, selling and wrapping,” Edinburg said. “The day after Christmas is hopefully me still at home in my PJs and hanging out.”
But the longtime Steamboat Springs business owner is expecting that the holiday season will keep giving through the start of the new year, as her staff returns to work Monday, Dec. 26, to help customers with exchanges, returns and, hopefully, spending a little bit of Christmas cash.
“Honestly, we don’t get that many returns,” Edinburg said. “But people get Christmas money … so they come in the day after and they want to spend it.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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