Steamboat businesses to repeat pairing of chocolate, shopping

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett puts doormats out in front of downtown businesses that are participating in "Sweet Treats on MainStreet" on Saturday as a part of a larger event, Small Business Saturday, which was started by American Express to promote shopping locally.

— After waking up early Friday to wait in line or elbow your way through a crowd for a deal on a flat-screen TV, take Saturday easy with a chocolate-fueled stroll through downtown Steamboat Springs.

Local businesses don’t see the kind of traffic on Black Friday — or “Big Box Friday,” according to some — that larger department stores do.

While those stores have loss leaders to attract customers, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said, smaller businesses can’t do that.

What the small businesses of Steamboat can do is offer an enjoyable experience and a personal touch for shoppers who choose to spend their money locally.

It’s in that spirit that American Express started Small Business Saturday three years ago. The credit card company has created a “Shop Small” promotion to fit nicely in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Barnett was putting out “Shop Small” doormats Tuesday in front of the businesses that will participate in the second "Sweet Treats on MainStreet" event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Thirty-four downtown businesses will have posters in their windows letting shoppers know to stop in for chocolate tastings.

The idea to pair chocolate with post-Thanksgiving shopping was suggested by Zirkel Trading owner Steve Hitchcock last year based on a similar event he attended in Wolf Creek.

The downtown businesses participating in the event will have specials to go along with the sweet treats.

Moose Mountain Trading Co. on Lincoln Avenue is in the midst of a promotion offering 20 percent off turtlenecks and plans to have chocolate turtles on hand Saturday.

“We love to do a play on words,” Moose Mountain owner Jenny Wall said. “And good chocolate.”

Wall said she thinks Black Friday has more of an impact in larger metro areas than in cities such as Steamboat, and she applauds the efforts of American Express and Mainstreet Steamboat to promote small businesses.

She said Saturday should be more pleasant than the Black Friday rush to big box retailers, and less frenetic.

“I think the whole thing about choosing the right present for people you want to give gifts to should be enjoyable,” Wall said. “That’s where a small business can succeed.

“We know our clientele and do care about what they are choosing for their families and themselves. We have special things that they aren't going to see in department stores that were chosen with a lot of care and thought.”

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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