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Mixed signs for retail across Summit County

Christine McManus

SUMMIT COUNTY – Preliminary sales reports from retailers were mixed as of early Christmas Eve.

Several shops were too busy to be interviewed for a news story, which has to be good news.

A flurry of customers, young and old, filled the aisles of Borders Books Music and Cafe for last-minute gift purchases Tuesday night, the day before Christmas Eve. Usually the store is quiet on weeknights.

More people waited until the last minute to buy gifts this year, said Samantha Shtein, the Borders manager in the Dillon Ridge shopping center.

“We’ve been busy the past five or six days. (Tuesday) was just crazy,” Shtein said. “We’re happy with where we’re at this year (in sales). Our sales are about the same level as last year.”

Foot traffic at the Red Village of the Silverthorne Factory Stores was down an estimated 20 percent this week, compared to this time last year, said Welcome Home store manager Becki Schumacher.

She kept track of customer volumes this year and last year. Welcome Home decor sales are down about 13 percent this year, Schumacher said.

“The people who are here are definitely spending money. There’s just not as many of them shopping as there were last year,” Schumacher said.

“Part of the reason might be that so many factory shops have closed and there’s a lot less for people to see, so they don’t come here as much.”

Business was good on Main Street in Breckenridge, according to Tara Thompson, owner of Two Wild Sisters. Her twin stores sell jewelry and unique gifts.

“We’ve been blessed, very blessed. We’re up about 50 percent this year over last year,” Thompson said. “I’ve also noticed international visitors are coming back around again after the lull following Sept. 11.”

United Parcel Service crews based in Silverthorne delivered more than 10,000 packages per day the past week, peaking at about 13,000 deliveries last Friday. On a normal day they deliver 6,000 packages.

“I’m delivering today, too, from Breckenridge to Fairplay, in my pickup (truck),” said UPS supervisor Mark Bushor, who usually coordinates and dispatches deliveries from Silverthorne. “I’ve worked about 75 hours this week.”

Deliveries are up about 1 percent over last year, Bushor said.

Business is picking up at River Run in Keystone, said Mark Kleinschmidt, president of the River Run Merchant Association, after a slower lodging start this month. Volumes of visitors began arriving last week, he said.

Kleinschmidt said his two Keystone businesses are faring extremely well. Between his clothing, jewelery and art store called Timbuktu and Mother Moose Children’s Toys store, retail business is up 40 percent for the month of December and is up 50 percent for the year, compared to 2002 sales.

The stores’ success is attributable to a reinventory of both stores, an improving economy and conference center recovery from the severe drop of business after Sept. 11, 2001, Kleinschmidt said.

Food and beverage businesses are struggling compared to retail in River Run, Kleinschmidt noted.

Sales tax reports for the month of December will be available in two or three months from the towns and county.

Only then will official comparisons be distinguishable, determining the extent of a slight economic recovery from the past couple years.

Christine McManus can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229 or

cmcmanus@summitdaily.com.


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