Summit County businesses report strong holiday weekends

Cyclists ride off after renting bikes from Carvers on Main Street in Breckenridge on Thursday, July 2.
Elaine Collins / Special to The Daily

FRISCO — As the Fourth of July weekend wound down on Sunday, July 5, business representatives across Summit County put in context what appeared to be a surge in tourism-related business over the weekend.

At Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe in Frisco, manager Courtney Cronk said the addition of nine tables’ worth of service at the restaurant through the town of Frisco’s Main Street Promenade enabled the breakfast spot to serve as many customers with novel coronavirus physical distancing as they typically do indoors.

“And we have created more jobs because of the promenade giving us extra seating,” Cronk said. “It’s brought more revenue, customers love it, and we’ve had no complaints. We were able to top last year’s sales.”

After she said she didn’t know what to expect ahead of the holiday weekend, Cronk said the turnout of locals and tourists for Main Street businesses like Butterhorn was solid over the weekend. Despite the COVID-19 situation, Butterhorn had so much demand for food that there was a wait list for interested customers, which was a return to normalcy for them. The manager added the promenade was ideal for people to space out and physically distance while waiting instead of crowding in one area.

In Breckenridge, where town officials also opened up Main Street for a walkable outdoor setup, Scott Sodergren, manager at the Mountain Wave bicycle and sports shop, said their consistent weekend business was the result of pent-up demand.

“Our bike rentals were off the hook,” Sodergren said. “And we had a pretty good June. June is usually not all that great. There’s been a lot of people. There’s pent-up demand to get up here and do things.”

During his lunch hour Sunday, Sodergren went out for a mountain bike ride and ran into Breckenridge event director and mountain bike community leader Jeff “Westy” Westcott near the B&B Trailhead. Despite Westcott’s popular annual Firecracker 50 mountain bike race having to be canceled for Saturday due to the novel coronavirus situation, Sodergren said bike shops like his performed well despite the lack of traditional organized holiday events like Westcott’s annual celebration for the Colorado cycling community based out of the town’s Carter Park.

“Without a parade and without a bike race, without fireworks, people were looking for something to do,” Sodergren said. “So they’re hitting the bike paths with bikes.”

Sodergren singled out electric bikes, or e-bikes, as being especially popular over the weekend now that they are allowed on the county’s recpath, with many customers wanting to ride down valley to Frisco and bike. He also said the shop’s Vail Pass shuttle service sold out easily — with COVID restrictions the shop can’t transport as many people in a van to the top of the pass as in nonpandemic times.

He said from the looks of things, many Breckenridge businesses also had strong weekends like his.

“Looking down Main Street, it almost looked like Oktoberfest,” Sodergren said. “But I got to say everyone who’s been in our shop wore a mask. The town has a generous program going where they can buy masks at the front door for people who don’t have them. … People understood, you put your mask on and that’s helping us keep in business. We were really pleased with the way the crowds understood this.”

With one of their outposts based out of Breckenridge, AVA Rafting and Zipline sales manager Andy Pearson said 7 out of 10 people who booked activities with them for trips in Buena Vista and Idaho Springs over the weekend came from stays in Breckenridge and Frisco. The company has done strong business from Summit County over the weekend despite the fact that its commercial rafting floats down the Blue River north of Silverthorne closed for the season four days ago.

“I’ve been on the phone all day,” Pearson said, speaking of demand on Sunday. “We are extremely busy. Back to back phone calls, right now I have five people waiting in line. There are a ton of people calling in, a ton of activity. My day is phone calls, email and chat over website. From 7 a.m., it starts immediately and doesn’t really stop until we close at 7p.m. People are mostly calling asking if we’re open and booking reservations quickly because of the wait time and volume of calls.

“Rafting has definitely been the most popular activity just because of the group aspect of it,” Pearson added. “A lot of people are renting private boats, a family of four is paying for six seats so they can rent out a boat on their own.”

Over in Dillon, Dillon Marina crew member Jack Madden described their business as “slammed” on Sunday afternoon. He said for the holiday and days surrounding the Fourth of July the marina’s fleet of 25 rental boats, sailing and pontoon, were fully booked weeks in advance.

“Each one of those was reserved in every time slot for the day and the surrounding days going forward and backward,” Madden said. “It’s been busy, but we have a great team and it’s been manageable.”

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