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Holiday shopping drops

The success of the holiday shopping season in Glenwood Springs is a matter of perspective. While some retailers said they have cause to celebrate, most reported that sales were either flat or down for December. “It really got off to a slow start,” said Carole O’Brien, manager of Book Train on Grand Avenue. “Then it went with a bang. We were really, really busy in the couple weeks before Christmas.”She said the slow start really hurt despite the last-minute shopping rush. O’Brien said the early cold snap and the new Glenwood Meadows could have contributed to the slower-than-expected shopping season, but sales for books and music, Book Train’s specialty, were down all over the nation. That wasn’t the story at Summit Canyon Mountaineering, which had some new competition this year with an expanded Gart Sports store and the new Mountain Sports Outlet opening in town. Summit Canyon floor manager Matt Oates said the store was “awfully busy,” but the amount of traffic in the store was difficult to gauge. “The early snow drove our ski sales,” he said. Overall, he said, Summit Canyon had a very good holiday season. Down the street at the Sunlight Ski Shop, rental retail manager Rob Jankovsky said sales were less than stellar. “It was to budget and equal to last year,” he said, adding that early snows this year boosted business. “We had new competitors in town that directly affect us.””I feel pretty good about where we are,” he said. “I would have felt better if it had been above budgeted numbers.”He said he’s unsure what kind of impact the new competition in town had on business. Sharon Graves, owner of Through the Looking Glass, said sales declined this Christmas shopping season. “We have high fuel bills right now,” she said. “People are cutting back a lot.”She hasn’t tabulated overall sales yet to be able to tell how much they declined this year, but “the overall consensus is that it’s down. It’s life. It just happens that way.”Marge Thiel, owner of Body and Soul, would agree. Thiel hasn’t tabulated overall sales for the season yet either, but her impression from the number of customers in her store is that sales declined this year, she said. “It just wasn’t as busy,” she said. “I didn’t have to have two people working.”Joan Chaffin, owner of Mountain Peddler, said sales in 2005 overall were down 15 percent to 20 percent, mostly because Grand Avenue road construction killed business during the first half of the year, she said. Sales rebounded in November, she said, when that month’s sales were the best since 1995. Sales were down about 15 percent in December, she said. She said she lost regular customers from Basalt and Carbondale because those residents can now shop in their hometowns. “Basalt is fabulous,” she said. “They don’t need to come to Glenwood. Carbondale is fabulous. They don’t need to come to Glenwood like they used to. Customers I’ve had for years I didn’t see this year because upvalley is special.”But, Chaffin said, she isn’t discouraged for 2006. “I still feel positive,” she said. “I’m full of energy for 2006.”Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel said sales tax numbers for the Christmas shopping season won’t be available until February, so it’s not yet possible to tell how sales fared overall last month. “Anecdotally,” he said, “I’ve heard that things are good. Things are up finally after four years of being down.”Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520bmagill@postindependent.com


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