Recession won’t make these two stores check out |

Recession won’t make these two stores check out

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Two longtime retail businesses in downtown Glenwood Springs are confident they’ll weather the economic downturn.

But it hasn’t just been business as usual. Summit Canyon Mountaineering has seen double-digit declines in sales figures and was forced to reduce its staff. Anderson’s Clothing has seen the worst decline in business since the “Black Sunday” oil shale bust of 1982.

“It’s been rough,” said Carl Moak, owner of Summit Canyon, adding that both the Glenwood Springs store and the Grand Junction store have been “severely impacted” since September.

Moak has never experienced an economic downturn like this one in his lifetime. But Summit Canyon’s sales now seem to be holding rather than continuing to decline, he added.

Summit Canyon has reduced the amount of product it buys and changed its buying pattern. For instance, instead of buying $10,000 worth of Patagonia products at once, the store may now spread out the purchases over a few months.

The outdoor gear and apparel store also stepped up special promotions and sales over the winter months, which helped some, but not a lot. Basically each week recently there has been a different category of products on sale.

“It seems like we’re not seeing the tourist traffic that we saw last winter, and it seems like the locals are just being careful with their dollars,” Moak said. “People are definitely looking for the discounted product.”

He’s noticed people still buying plenty of casual footwear and climbing gear, however. The store’s spring sale that started March 7 hasn’t been going as well as it has in years past.

Moak said he’s confident Summit Canyon will survive this downturn. He said the store’s overall strategy is to do whatever it can to cut costs and increase efficiency while maintaining the same high levels of customer service. One benefit of the slowdown is that now there’s more demand for jobs, so it’s easier to find and keep good employees.

Summit Canyon went into business in 1978 and has been under the current ownership for almost four years. Moak believes its long-standing reputation is helping the business weather the recession.

“We’re confident we’re going to survive, and we’re optimistic about what’s going to happen in the future,” Moak said.

Monica Miller’s father started Anderson’s Clothing in Glenwood Springs in 1974. She and Gary Miller also own Miller’s Dry Goods in Rifle, which opened in 1981.

“We had it a year before the oil shale bust, so we know all about downturns,” she said. “It was terrible. It was really hard. It just turned off like a spigot. Pretty much the only things we would sell then were pretty basic things like Levi jeans.”

Miller considers the current downturn “significant,” but not nearly as bad as the oil shale bust of 1982.

She said Anderson’s Clothing actually had more customers than usual coming in this year, but they were buying less and looking for discounts, so revenue has been at normal levels.

Miller said no employees have been laid off from either of the businesses. They’ve put extra effort into the purchasing process, and their staff is trying extra hard.

“When we went to market, we didn’t buy anything that was too ordinary,” she said. “We wanted it to be special. People aren’t going to part with their money over something ordinary.”

The business makes more item-driven purchases. It buys things customers might purchase alone instead of only with a complete outfit. The Millers have also been doing a little bit more advertising to try to bring in customers. Miller said they’re not doing a lot of discounts because the stores have never had a big markup on things.

Business is better in Rifle where the economy is stronger due to oil and gas workers, Miller said. At Miller’s Dry Goods, business has been “unbelievable” in the past but now business is “good” instead of “just crazy.”

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