Busy Weekend Kicks Off Holiday Season In Lower Ute Pass

Despite Brutal Winds, Droves Of Shoppers Partake In Annual Tradition

~ by Guy Priel ~
Thanksgiving didn’t slow the pace for residents of Manitou Springs and the lower Ute Pass, who descended on Red Dog Coffee, which remained open most of the day.
In addition, more than 50 people attended a community dinner at Memorial Hall in Manitou, sponsored by the Salvation Army.
Afterward, many started their shopping early at D’Colores, Mushroom Monday, Gigi’s and Christmas in Manitou, which all had specials throughout the day. Officials at the stores reported slow but steady business. Babu’s and Heart of Jerusalem were open to provide options other than turkey.
Emily Thompson of Cascade dropped into Christmas in Manitou to find a unique Colorado inspired gift for her sister, who was dropping by later in the day for dinner.
Black Friday, generally a day for malls and box stores to draw shoppers, brought shoppers out to Manitou and Old Colorado City in droves, as a chilly morning gave way to clear skies and a mild afternoon, as shoppers took advantage of discounts, specials and unique gift ideas.
David Wilson of Monument and his family decided to avoid the crowds and shop local.
“I believe it is important to shop small and keep small businesses going and keep our money here,” he said. “I know they appreciate it. It’s also a chance to show my brother from Illinois what types of businesses we have in this area.”
Local businesses depend on the weekend after Thanksgiving for a majority of their business once the tourist season ends. Businesses reported a steady flow of traffic throughout the day.
“We don’t normally see a lot of business on Black Friday,” a clerk at Santa Fe Springs in Old Colorado City said. “Our big day is Small Business Saturday, but we did well today. Plenty of traffic and sales were good.”
Stacy Stedmon from Calhan drove to the West Side after fighting a crowd at Target.
“I was tired of the crowd and wanted to grab a few nice things,” she said. “I found shops here I never knew were here. Jewelry, art, pottery, chocolate, what more do you need? And the restaurants are nice too.”
Later in the evening, a crowd of about 50 people gathered at the clock in Manitou Springs to watch the tree lighting. Despite the blustery wind that picked up as the evening wore on, hot cider, hot chocolate and warm cookies warmed the crowd as they waited for Santa Claus to light the tree.
“This is an annual tradition for my family,” Nancy Wright of Manitou Springs said. “We hang out with neighbors, listen to some carols and let the kids meet Santa. It’s a fun tradition for us that Manitou does well.”
Gusty winds on Saturday morning kept traffic slow throughout Manitou Springs, as winds gusting over 70 miles per hour blew snow and dust around. Many businesses saw little traffic until later in the day when the winds finally calmed.
Small Business Saturday is a national event started by American Express in 2010 to help small businesses gain additional exposure and change the way consumers shop within their own community during the holiday season. It has been held the Saturday after Thanksgiving ever since and it is the busiest shopping day for a majority of businesses in Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City, as stores have discounts on items throughout the store, offer handmade items or newly released products.
Old Colorado City expanded the event to include a Christmas Stroll, featuring Dickens carolers, a live reindeer and Santa Claus. Stores stayed open late and served snacks to shoppers. Art galleries offered local artists who displayed their art, provided autographs and talked to patrons about their skills.
Business came in spurts and, despite the chilly evening, a festive atmosphere prevailed.
“It was a good evening,” a cashier at a packed art gallery said. “I think creating a Christmas Stroll us a good idea here in Old Colorado City. It keeps people out late and brings a holiday feeling to get everyone ready for Christmas. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
Next Week: How Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Fared In Woodland Park and Teller County?