Grocery stores, dispensaries and liquor stores see dip in sales despite exemption from shutdown |

Grocery stores, dispensaries and liquor stores see dip in sales despite exemption from shutdown

City Market in Breckenridge on March 17.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

DILLON — Local businesses deemed essential continue to operate, but the amount of business they’re doing is surprisingly low given perceived demand.

Although Summit County residents are doing their grocery, liquor and marijuana shopping locally, the absence of visitors in the community means sales are underperforming compared with March in previous years. Representatives from City Market, High Country Healing and Dillon Ridge Liquors all said there was a quick spike in sales before the countywide shutdown but then business declined. 

“This is one of our worst sales years,” said JP Eco, assistant store manager at the Breckenridge City Market. “Once the tourists left in our town, our sales went down.”

Eco said staff are overloaded with additional cleaning responsibilities, but the store has put a pause on hiring and cut hours to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. As for supplies, Eco said the store is slowly catching up with the demand, including toilet paper, but is still struggling to stock sanitizer. Eco added that while the Dillon City Market is still below last year’s sales numbers, sales at the Dillon store have been more steady from locals. A Walgreens store manager also reported that business is slowing down.

High Country Healing manager Shianne Hansen said that when the ski lifts closed March 15 there was a huge “pop” in sales for the few days that followed. The dispensary decided to close down for a few days to regroup and find the safest way to distribute products. High Country Healing currently requires all orders to be placed before coming into the store and only allows two customers inside at a time to pick up orders. Now that visitors have left, Hansen said locals are coming in steadily but making comments about stopping by as an excuse to get out of the house. 

“Spring break is definitely our busiest time of the year,” Hansen said. “It’s just slow and steady with our locals.”

While the new policies have cut down on lines that pose a potential health issue, Hansen said the store is working on providing curbside delivery, which would align with Gov. Jared Polis’ latest executive order. That goes into effect Tuesday and allows dispensaries to stay open only for medical or curbside delivery.

Oliver VanLaere, a manager at Dillon Ridge Liquors, also reported a sales boom the weekend after the ski areas shut down and said the store was busier than it was the weekend before New Year’s Day. He said people were buying in bulk and were buying double to triple what they would normally buy. 

“It’s been steady all day, but it’s definitely slower,” VanLaere said Sunday. “(March 16) we had a crazy rush, then everybody stocked up, I think. We’ve been below average over the last few days.”

VanLaere predicted that as long as the store is allowed to stay open, business will be steady. 

“With all the hotels and Airbnb’s closed and spring break pretty much over, it’ll be mostly locals from here on out,” VanLaere said. “… None of us really know what to expect, so we’re taking it day by day.”

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