2016 Year in Review: The highs and lows of business in Summit County | SummitDaily.com

2016 Year in Review: The highs and lows of business in Summit County

Oscar's of Breckenridge, a popular taco bar, was shut down for six days after a salmonella outbreak sickened 16 people back in July.

Sales tax revenue continues to climb, a sign that retailers throughout Summit are booming. A collection of new businesses, such as Outsider in Breckenridge and the Studio B dance studio in Silverthorne, were welcomed into the mix. But 2016 wasn't as kind to other businesses, and some were forced to shut down for good.

Outdoor Retail Shake-Up

One such store, Frisco-based 123Mountain, faced a collection of law suits and complaints, and owners Anna Sofia and Olivier Goumas were evicted after skipping out on rent for the store. The store drew the attention of Outdoor Magazine, which wrote an expose on the couple's questionable business practices.

"They came in June and paid a couple of months. I've had no rent since November," Larry Feldman, owner of the Frisco property, told the Daily in March.

The store's assets were seized in March, followed by an investigation by the Colorado Attorney General's office. An auction of 123Mountain's inventory was held in July, bringing in $56,000.

Sports Authority also struggled early in the year, filing for bankruptcy in March. By May, its stores were closed, including the company's Dillon location. It was announced in mid-December that REI would be taking the place of the Sports Authority. The new REI is set to open in spring, after a remodel of the building.

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However, concern arose around a sales tax deal that was meant to incentivize REI to come to Summit, a location the company had been eyeing for years. The town of Dillon will give REI a sales tax-rebate of 25 percent annually over 10 years, up to $600,000. After the announcement, The Denver Post wrote an article on the fairness of small towns giving large chain stores tax rebates when the companies don't need them, or are likely to still come without them.

Marijuana holds steady

The marijuana industry continues to do well in Summit. Tax revenue throughout the state hit $1 billion through the month of October. Summit County stores brought in nearly $2 million in taxes.

The small collection of marijuana stores in Summit saw some changes this year. Backcountry Cannabis Company, a dispensary featured on CNN's "Higher Profits," transferred their license and store location on Airport Road to Denver-based Green Dragon Cannabis Company. Green Dragon reopened on Dec. 31 of 2015. Because the town council in Breckenridge has placed a cap on the amount of licenses, new stores cannot open and must obtain a license from an established business.

The license cap prevented local Gabe Franklin from converting his medical license to a retail one. The town council voted against the proposed ordinance in September.

The town of Dillon, has a similar cap on licenses, but discussed drafting an ordinance that would allow current retail holders to have a dual license, allowing them to have a medical store as well. The proposal was discussed during a November work session and an ordinance has not been drafted as of yet.

Health Concerns

In the summer of 2016, an outbreak of salmonella caused Oscar's of Breckenridge to be shut down for six days. A total of 16 employees and customers were reported to have contracted a rare strain of the foodborne illness.

After the salmonella was traced back to the restaurant, a health inspection was held on July 15. More than $1,200 worth of food had to be thrown out, and two to three employees were working with symptoms of illness. The staff was not allowed to return until they tested negative for salmonella.

Employees had concerns on how they would be compensated during the time the restaurant was closed.

"It's been nearly 3 weeks, and I'm still testing positive," employee Brittany Doyne wrote in an email in August. "I feel I should be compensated for all 3 of my jobs, not just Oscar's. I'm missing out on thousands of dollars I would have earned had Oscar's not gotten me sick."