Despite 2020 woes, more businesses opened than closed in Silverthorne and Dillon |

Despite 2020 woes, more businesses opened than closed in Silverthorne and Dillon

Breckenridge and Frisco didn’t fare as well despite nearly 100 new businesses

Jori Renner, front, and her husband, Jackson, work at their ski and bike shop, Gore Range Sports, on Nov. 8. The Renners opened the store in fall 2020 amid an increase in demand for backcountry gear.
Photo by Taylor Sienkiewicz /

When the COVID-19 shutdown hit in March, fears of permanent small business closures in Summit County abounded. However, in Silverthorne and Dillon, more businesses have opened than closed since March of last year.

In Silverthorne, 28 new businesses have opened since March 1, 2020, and 13 have closed, according to town records. The lists of opened and closed businesses are based on the number of business licenses the town has issued and the number of business license accounts it has closed. Of the new businesses, there were several brick-and-mortar stores, including Just Send It, a packing and shipping store, Windy City Pizza, and Gore Range Sports.

Construction-related businesses account for at least seven new businesses and six closed businesses in Silverthorne. Silverthorne Director of Finance Laura Kennedy explained that if a contractor or subcontractor is working in Silverthorne, they need a business license. But if they are not currently working on a job site in Silverthorne, they will not renew their license, which is why the industry is featured heavily on the list of opened and closed businesses.

“All of the development that is going on right now is definitely generating a lot more need for licensing in the town for businesses that are pulling permits,” Kennedy said. “… The amount of construction that’s going on in town right now is at an all-time high with everything along the river and Fourth Street Crossing and Summit Sky Ranch.”

Kennedy added that three stores in the Outlets at Silverthorne closed in 2020: Tommy Hilfiger, the Ann Taylor Factory Store and the Loft Outlet. She noted that there could be more businesses that have closed since March that the town hasn’t been made aware of.

In Dillon, Finance Director Carri McDonnell reported that the town has seen 10 businesses start up and six close since last March. She noted in an email that new businesses include small retail businesses, cleaning services, the new indoor playground Wild and Free and Scrappy’s Pizza. Offices and small retail shops comprised the closed businesses in town, McDonnell said.

While some business owners decided to move forward with their ideas to open this year despite the pandemic, some of the newly opened businesses in the two towns, including Scrappy’s Pizza and Gore Range Sports, opened in part due to needs and interests specific to the pandemic. Gore Range Sports owners Jackson and Jori Renner said when opening that they saw a major bump in backcountry and Nordic skiing interest during the pandemic and knew they could fill a need with the backcountry-focused store.

Scrappy’s Pizza owner Lindsay Atkins said when opening that she invested in the joint because a pizza restaurant with takeout and delivery is in demand during COVID-19 restrictions. It turns out, Atkins was right. She said Tuesday that delivery and takeout is 80% to 90% of her business and that her current challenge is getting people to dine in now that restrictions allow for in-person dining.

“I would not be afloat without takeout and delivery,” Atkins said. “I don’t think I would be operational without that. But every month, we’re growing, and I think we’re going to continue to see growth.”

Blair McGary, executive director of the Summit Chamber of Commerce, speculated that many new businesses that have popped up in Summit County over the past year can be attributed to innovative people who saw business opportunities amid the pandemic. She noted that there have been opportunities specifically in Silverthorne and Dillon, as compared to the rest of the county, because the towns tend to have cheaper real estate and available storefronts.

“When things like this happen, like a worldwide pandemic and economic downturns associated with it, you often see people who have that entrepreneurial spirit that really find a way to thrive through these very, very challenging times,” McGary said.

In Frisco, town records show that 46 businesses have opened since March 2020 while 65 closed down. However, 2019 records show that there is natural turnover: That less-tumultuous year actually saw more businesses shutter and fewer businesses open than 2020. In 2019, 76 businesses closed and 26 opened.

Frisco’s Marketing and Communication’s Director Vanessa Agee pointed out that the Frisco Town Council acted out of concern for local businesses and attempted to help them stay afloat by offering aid, creating a shop local program and setting up the pedestrian promenade.

In Breckenridge, 62 businesses closed and 48 opened, according to town records. Closed businesses included Ridge Street eateries like Angel’s Hollow and Legends Steaks and Italian as well as Main Street retail shops like Annie’s Alpine Kids, Space Cowboy and Summit Shirt Co. Meanwhile, several new restaurants, retail stores and offices opened in town, including the new Rootstalk restaurant, Yo Mommas Cantina and Bluebird Kids Clothing Co.

“We are thankful many businesses were able to remain open and, generally, we aren’t surprised by the numbers,” Breckenridge spokesperson Haley Littleton wrote in an email.

Graphic by Taylor Sienkiewicz

Editor’s note: Frisco and Breckenridge data might include ownership changes, inflating both new and closed business totals.

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