Summit County small businesses feel the love over the weekend amid pandemic restrictions

DILLON — This Black Friday and Small Business Saturday was special to local retailers who felt supported by both locals and repeat visitors amid the hardships of the novel coronavirus pandemic. While retailers are currently reduced to 50% capacity in Summit County, many reported seeing plenty of holiday shoppers and bargain hunters over the weekend.

The Sunny Side Up Studio owner Ashlie Weisel said that the weekend featured lots of Christmas shoppers including both locals and visitors. She said that she saw a lot of local support as she posted the deals the studio was running on social media and saw a good turnout of familiar faces. The studio sells gnomes from Germany, which were 20% off over the weekend. Weisel said they flew off the shelves. Weisel also gave out free T-shirts with any $50 purchase on Saturday.

“They showed up and they brought that love,” said Weisel. “It just goes to show what a phenomenal community we have that everyone’s looking out for us right now and they want us to stay around so we’ll do just that.”

Breckenridge’s Arabella Boutique ran different deals over the weekend to entice shoppers, including offering a $25 gift card for a future in-store or online order with a purchase of $100 or more on Saturday. On Friday, shoppers could buy one item at full price and get a second item at 25% off. Owner Jodie Schmidt said about a quarter of the shoppers were in search of holiday gifts while the remainder were buying for themselves.

“The weekend was definitely successful,” Schmidt said. “It was pretty even to last year, but it was just nice to see the people coming out to support the local economy and businesses here.”

Schmidt said the county’s level red restrictions haven’t had a huge impact on her business except for the fact that people aren’t coming into the store after dark since restaurants are closed to in-person dining, which means people haven’t been walking around at night while they wait for a table. Arabella also hosted “Pink Friday” the weekend before Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, which was an initiative Schmidt found through the Boutique Hub to drum up small business support prior to the major shopping weekend.

“This weekend obviously was the main shopping weekend that we see every single year, everybody knows about it,” Schmidt said. “’Shop small’ obviously has been more important now than ever with everything happening. … My Pink Friday event was pretty successful for people wanting to shop small first.”

Schmidt is also working to ramp up online business amid the pandemic and has gotten creative with Zoom shopping parties for regular customers. She also helped put together a photo collage with other local businesses encouraging people to shop small.

“I’m a big advocate for community over competition,” Schmidt said. “I wouldn’t be successful if I didn’t have the other local boutiques and businesses around me.”

Nichole Shepherd, owner of DonLo Mercantile, said that while business was strong over the weekend considering the situation, it was not as strong for her compared to previous years.

“It’s impacted us not having the restaurants and everything fully open and just having retail,” Shepherd said. “It’s a plus but it’s also a minus because there’s just people here and they have nothing else to do but to come into retail,”

On Saturday, DonLo gave out a free gift with each online or in-store purchase. Shepherd said that while she’s glad retail is able to be open, the foot traffic doesn’t necessarily bring buyers. She said a lot of people who came to the shop over the weekend were mainly stopping in as they wandered through town as there isn’t much else to do. Shepherd feels that locals are more apt to avoid crowds by not shopping on the weekends or major shopping days and are utilizing online shopping, pickup and delivery.

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