Steamboat businesses gear up for Small Business Saturday

After a year of uncertainty due to COVID-19, staffing shortages and issues with the supply chain, small business owners in Steamboat Springs are hoping Small Business Saturday — which falls the day after Black Friday — will bring visitors and locals out to shop in town.

“We put so much work into what we create and what we put out, and we would like to be able to keep that going and keep being able to sell items that were made with love and took time to make,” said Sami Pomeroy, a sales representative and marketing coordinator with Ohana. “COVID impacted us pretty hard, especially because we were moving locations right when the pandemic started.”

Main Street Steamboat Executive Director Lisa Popovich said despite pandemic restrictions, Small Business Saturday was highly successful in 2020, as customers were eager to support struggling local businesses amid an uncertain time.

“It was very popular, but if the last two years have taught me anything, it’s not to expect anything,” Popovich said.

Steamboat Resort is expected to open Saturday, but with abnormally low snow levels and most of the resort’s snow being manufactured, Popovich said she hopes visitors who come to town but do not spend all day on the mountain will shop at local stores.

“I’m hoping that with our unfortunate snow situation, people will come downtown because they won’t be skiing,” Popovich said. “There are plenty of things to do downtown if you’re visiting, and with our unfortunate lack of snow, I’m hoping that brings more people downtown.”

Though Opening Day does not traditionally bring as many visitors as the city sees at the height of the winter season, Popovich said early indicators show tourists are still planning to come to town for both Thanksgiving and the first run on the slopes.

“Bookings are good, the hotels are pretty full, and lots of people have guests coming in from out of town,” Popovich said. “It already feels like there’s a lot of people here, lots of families, and you can feel people walking around already.”

As Amazon and other large online retailers have contributed to the closure of traditional malls and brick-and-mortar stores across the nation, Popovich encouraged residents and visitors to shop local, which she said is rewarding in a place like Steamboat with such unique, vibrant businesses.

“You can’t get the experience of walking into F.M. Light or walking into Ohana anywhere else,” Popovich said. “When you walk into a store like Ohana or Urbane or F.M. Light, you feel the warmth of the whole community around you, and you want to shop there.”

Visitors in Steamboat can buy hand-crafted soap, animal leather bags and souvenirs reminding them of a nostalgic skiing trip, which Popovich said helps the city keep up with online shopping and box stores, though the explosive growth of Amazon has forced local shops to further think outside the box.

“I feel like in some cases, of course that’s always going to be a struggle for small businesses, because it’s hard to compete both in price and in timeline,” said Rochell Clark, owner of Steamboat Fun and Games. “We’ve had an exorbitant amount of support with our locals making sure that they check us first or seeing if we can order for them.”

Clark said the national delay in the supply chain has also provided difficulties, though her store ordered inventory early in the year, which put it first in line for receiving shipped items and helped it avoid some of the delays.

“It’s been a lot, but luckily, we planned very much ahead. We put in all of our orders very early, and I knew we wanted far ahead of time,” Clark said. “I’d foresee a pretty good season with Christmas coming up.”

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