Steamboat Springs retailers see upswing on Black Friday

Sisters Catherine Onate, right, and Nicole Onate check out at downtown retailer Urbane on Friday afternoon. Business owners reported brisk business Friday as many offered special Black Friday deals.
Reader poll

When do you start your holiday gift shopping?

  • I’m already done 16%
  • Black Friday 7%
  • Small Business Saturday 5%
  • Cyber Monday 5%
  • At the last possible second 29%
  • I don’t buy gifts. Bah, humbug! 39%

298 total votes.

— A slow stroll down Lincoln Avenue on Friday morning revealed the paradox of this Thanksgiving weekend in Steamboat.

People in shorts littered both sides of the street as unseasonably warm weather made winter seem far away. But a glance toward Mount Werner or Howelsen Hill reminded shoppers of the encroaching season and the busiest job this time of year: snowmaking.

The second-busiest job award goes to shoppers, who were taking part in the American tradition of shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

Although Black Friday historically is a little different in Steamboat — people don’t camp out, lines don’t form and thousands don’t rush through opening doors — Friday showed signs of the national ruckus.

“It was a really busy morning,” Urbane co-owner Trent Kolste said as he ran around getting shoes and products from the back. “It started really well, and we expect it to get busier. It’s a good start.”

Urbane and neighbor Zirkel Trading Co. also were celebrating their four-year anniversaries.

Urbane put items on sale for the occasion, including shoes that were 60 percent off.

“It’s very cool,” Kolste said. “We’re pumped on it. We’re pumped on the support the community has shown us. But this being a busy day, you don’t really have time to think about it.”

At Zirkel Trading, owner Steve Hitchcock said he uses the week to feature anniversary sales. After being open less than two hours Friday, Hitchcock said he saw an uptick in traffic.

“We’ve been doing it all week,” he said.

Nationally, Friday was expected to be the busiest day of the holiday sopping season. Last year, Black Friday sales were a record $11.4 billion, according to mall tracker ShopperTrak. This year, BDO USA, which surveys retail chief marketing officers, was even more optimistic, expecting sales to increase 3.1 percent.

In downtown Steamboat, good deals were generating plenty of foot traffic.

Employees at Steamboat Flyfisher said a line of customers waited for the doors to open at 9 a.m. The fishing outfitter offered 35 percent off from 9 to 10 a.m., 25 percent off from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 15 percent off the rest of the day.

“We wanted to jump into Black Friday,” sales associate David Dietrich said. “We wanted to get people in on some great gear.”

Although it wasn’t as busy at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, the deals were abundant.

“We’re not as busy as we usually are,” Ski & Bike Kare’s office manager Sierra Lovejoy said. “We’ve been really steady with boot fitting the last couple of weeks.”

At Walmart, it took a couple of laps to find a parking spot. Several national big box chains — including Walmart, Sears, Target and Toys “R” Us — began Black Friday sales Thursday.

Steamboat's Walmart didn’t even close overnight Thursday. A Walmart manager referred questions to the corporate office but said things were “fantastic.” One employee said a line began at 4 a.m. for early TV sales.

Strong foot traffic should continue for downtown businesses into Saturday, when the Sweet Treats on Mainstreet chocolate-tasting event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It’s all part of Small Business Saturday. Thirty-four businesses will participate, and shop owners hope Black Friday and Small Business Saturday will turn 2012 into a profitable year.

“We hope this is the start to an awesome season,” Urbane's Kolste said. “It’s been slower, but we hope this is the start of it.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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