Small Biz Saturday shopping boon for Glenwood Springs businesses | PostIndependent.com

Small Biz Saturday shopping boon for Glenwood Springs businesses

Bullock's employee Adam English adds decorations to the Christmas tree inside the store on Friday afternoon.

For communities across the country, the Saturday after Thanksgiving — and, notably, the day after the big-box store bonanza of Black Friday — is a day for shoppers to patronize small businesses.

The goal of Small Business Saturday, which American Express started in 2010 to activate small businesses after consumer spending tanked during the Great Recession, has largely been realized in Glenwood Springs.

Local governments and chamber organizations, including the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (GSCRA), work to make the shopping event an all-day community affair, promoting small businesses and bringing foot traffic to the downtown corridor.

"Black Friday is not really a big thing for our type of business, but Small Business Saturday is," said Erin Zalinski, co-owner of TreadZ shoe store and apparel store Toad & Co., both located on Grand Avenue.

Since 2016, the U.S. Senate has recognized Small Business Saturday. It first started with various promotions, like FedEx's gift card giveaway in 2011, which helped drive consumers to local shops. Those types of programs have mostly gone away, but shoppers still come out for the one-day event, which shows how much the community values its local merchants.

"It really speaks to the appreciation people have for their community," Zalinski said. "We all love the convenience of online shopping, but the reality is we know that without brick-and-mortar businesses in the community, we'd be at a deficit."

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According to a report from American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an estimated 108 million people across the country participated in Small Business Saturday. Around half the participants of Small Business Saturday 2017 visited stores they had not been in before, and 58 percent visited more than one shop or restaurant during their trip, according to a survey.

"Small Business Saturday is a great day to get out and support our local small businesses, which are truly the lifeblood of our community," Angie Anderson, president and CEO of the GSCRA, said. The chamber is also working on a campaign to encourage local shopping throughout December.

Glenwood Springs' location and variety of attractions, from boutique stores and restaurants to spas and art galleries, make it a fun place for visitors and locals to try new things.

"More than anything, our small businesses provide an experience you can't find anywhere else," Anderson said.

Small Business Saturday kicked off with the Wine and Wassail Walk and the lighting ceremony at the Hotel Colorado Friday evening, and local businesses are running a variety of specials.

Bullock's had doughnuts from Sweet Coloradough and other refreshments Friday afternoon. On Saturday at Treadz, customers can spin a wheel for a discount or other promotion.

Businesses are looking forward to holiday shopping traffic without the inconvenience of the Grand Avenue Bridge construction.

"Last year was so hard with the bridge construction, it wasn't really good. This year we at least had snow for Thanksgiving, so we are already seem to be having a better year," said Betty Zordel, floor manager at Bullock's.

As Christmas approached it didn't get much better, Zordel said, but the Wine and Wassail Walk the weekend after Thanksgiving was a rare high point for the season. "We did really well with that part last year, it was really fun," Zordel said.

Local restaurants see an increase in foot traffic from the tree lighting and wine walk as well, said Corrie Murray, general manager Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub. The Brew Pub picked the event to debut its winter menu for the wine walk.

"It is a really busy weekend for us. It's one of the busier times of the year," Murray said. "It's great everybody is out supporting local businesses."

tphippen@postindependent.com