Big businesses have struggled and closed in Silverthorne and Dillon recently, but small businesses have been multiplying

Several big-name brands have shuttered their doors in the two towns over the past year. But smaller businesses also opened — and sales tax revenue has only climbed.

Robert Tann/Summit Daily News
The Outlets at Silverthorne pictured on Thursday, May 4, 2023. In recent year, Silverthorne has seen several corporate closures including Nike, one of the outlet complex's biggest-name brands. But during the same time, a slew of smaller, independent businesses have also opened.
Robert Tann/Summit Daily News

As the towns of Silverthorne and Dillon forge ahead on efforts to boost economic growth, reshape their downtown cores and add new housing, some notable businesses have receded in recent years. 

Despite the closures of several corporate storefronts, smaller businesses are taking hold in the area, and both towns continue to report growing revenue from sales tax

In 2022, Silverthorne brought in $17.3 million in sales tax revenue, a nearly 12% increase from 2021. Dillon reaped nearly $10 million, a more than 9% increase from 2021, according to both towns’ finance departments. 

“Sales taxes obviously stop flowing to the town when businesses close, but it’s usually a balance between closures and openings over the years, so even with closures, sales tax revenues have been up year over year since 2010,” said Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland. 

Since the beginning of 2022, Silverthorne has seen the closure of at least two major fast-food chains — Pizza Hut and Arby’s. That comes after other corporate shutterings in 2021 that included Burger King and Nike, the latter of which was situated in the town’s flagship outlet store complex

But during that same time, the town netted a slew of smaller businesses, which included a thrift store Keep it Local; Kucu Tequila Bistro, run by the owner of the popular neighboring restaurant Sauce on the Blue; and the Blue Bird Market, home to a bar, coffee shop and several independently-run eateries and businesses.

“I suppose I’d say the closures is only half the story, or less than half, both figuratively and literally,” Hyland said. 

In Dillon, the two biggest corporate closures since 2022 have been QDOBA and Bed, Bath & Beyond — which shuttered its doors just weeks ahead of the company’s bankruptcy announcement last month. But in that same time, the town has seen the opening of businesses both big and small.

That includes Q-Bole, which replaced QDOBA; the Boulder-based eatery Snarfs Sandwiches, which has over 20 locations in Colorado, Missouri and Texas; and Panera Bread, which opened last month following years of delay.

Even more recently, two independently owned businesses — a nightclub and a medical spa — also opened off Dillon’s Main Street.

Keeping businesses staffed

Dillon Town Manager Nathan Johnson said staffing, housing and child care issues are generally at play when it comes to some business closures.

Hyland said in Silverthorne, fast food chains in particular have struggled to keep staff.

“In many cases, that’s just synonymous with housing challenges,” Hyland said. “In other cases, when Nike left for instance, it’s just a corporate decision that is bigger than our one location, and it’s not about our region but a bigger corporate pullback.”

While securing housing for employees also presents an obstacle for smaller businesses, Hyland said he knows of several that have managed to make it a priority — paving their way for success in the high-cost area. 

“I know one of the more recent things I’m aware of is businesses directly securing housing for their own employees — through purchasing units or renting units that are for their specific workforce,” Hyland said, adding that many also partner with the town on events “and that helps expand their reach and exposure and to build community connections.”

Incentivizing business

The town also has a number of programs to support newer businesses, Hyland said. That includes an up to $10,000 grant program to help business owners pay for start-up expenses, such as signage. Another initiative, a sales tax sharing program, has been used to incentivize businesses to move into previously vacant space.

Vacancies, especially those of free-standing sites for former businesses such as Arbys, Burger King and Pizza Hut, can leave a visual impact on the area. The former Burger King building, where plywood has fallen off a window and the parking lot and dumpster area “has become problematic,” is one site the town would like to see kept up, Hyland said. 

Vacant buildings are still subject to town code, Hyland said, and while “an absent landlord or owner does make it more challenging if their property is out of sight out of mind for them,” Hyland said the town has made a recent push to enforce these standards for properties. 

Johnson said Dillon has several incentive programs to fill vacant buildings but added, “Most commercial space is owned by private companies/individuals who keep the building up when vacant.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.