Christmas Season Starts Out With a Bang!

Teller resident Casey Valade checks out all of the special holiday deals in downtown Woodland Park during the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Photo By Cindy Valade.

Big Crowds Frequent Local Stores/Restaurants For Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

Trevor Phipps

Following the Thanksgiving holiday, people across the Pikes Peak region flocked to Teller High Country area stores, shops  and eateries  in impressive numbers

Mother Nature also helped out the cause with unseasonably warm temperatures.

First, the streets of Woodland Park were filled on Friday with people strolling around town and checking out the local stores for the Black Friday holiday. Then on Saturday, people congregated once again to support local stores and to celebrate Small Business Saturday.

The term “Black Friday” was first used back in the early 1950s and it referred to the practice of people calling in sick to work to have a four-day weekend. However, the term never really caught on until in the 1960s when police in Philadelphia used the term to describe the crowds and traffic congestions in the City of Brotherly Love, caused by so many people hitting the stores to go Christmas shopping.

In 1975, the New York Times used the term to describe the busiest shopping and traffic day of the year in Philadelphia. The term then spread to other cities in the 1980s. Since 2005, Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S.

However, these days Black Friday has become more of a holiday that embraces sales offered by big box stores. Since small cities, such as Woodland Park, have limited options locally for big retailers. As a result, the town’s Walmart outlet off Hwy. 24 was the only signature big box place to celebrate this special shopping bonanza. Walmart-goers, though, weren’t disappointed.

Unlike the past several years, in 2021 Walmart and most other stores waited until early Friday morning to start their holiday sales instead of opening Thursday night. And according to the Walmart staff in Woodland Park, there were a number of shoppers lining up bright and early to catch all of the specials before they were sold out.

This year Walmart’s hottest sales item seemed to be their 40-inch smart TV they had on sale for only $128. Many people were seen leaving with the televisions early, and the big box outlet sold out of  these products by 11 a.m.

Even though Walmart was the only local retailer to offer Black Friday specials,  many people frequented the streets of Woodland Park. Businesses, such as restaurants and coffee shops, experienced a good amount of traffic locally. Some restaurants had big waits for lunch.

After years of seeing Black Friday’s success as a shopping holiday, American Express decided to launch Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2010. The purpose of the holiday was to help small businesses gain exposure, and to inspire customers to shop in their local communities.

Small Business Saturday Turns Into Big Hit

This year, the Woodland Park Main Street organization teamed up with the Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce to celebrate Small Business Saturday in downtown Woodland Park. A tent was set up in the Joanie’s Deli Parking lot where members of Main Street handed out bags with coupons and gifts from local businesses.

According to Main Street Coordinator Gail Wingerd, the organization had a good turnout once again for the shop local holiday. “We gave away over 70 bags to people within the first two hours of being set up,” Wingerd said.

Every year Main Street sets up in the city’s downtown region and passes out bags full of coupons as incentives to get people out into the local stores. All types of businesses participated this year including house cleaners, local eateries, retail stores, and real estate agents.

At the tent, Main Street was also selling Christmas ornaments to shoppers that had a picture and the words “Woodland Park” Laser etched in the wooden ornament. The ornaments were made in the U.S.A and they proved to be a big hit among local shoppers.

Also at the tent, the volunteers handed out flyers for the upcoming Lighter Side of Christmas parade that takes place in downtown Woodland Park this Saturday. The brochure talks about the parade and other related events. The brochure also had an extensive calendar detailing all of the holiday season events in the region from now until the New Year.

One other positive aspect of the local shopping holiday was the fact that many of the coupons that were given out that day are good for the entire shopping season. Therefore, anyone who went out and got a coupon bag last weekend can continue to patronize local stores for the rest of 2021, and get good discounts while doing it.

The lower Ute Pass, and the town of Green Mountain Falls, joined the Yuletide kick-off and Christmas spirit.  The annual Yuletide party at the Painted Bear gift shop Saturday attracted hefty crowds, with locals and visitors alike showing off their skills at painting ornaments and singing carols. They also tasted special  goodies and hot chocolate and purchased unique presents.

The festivities continue this weekend with a number of events planned in Woodland Park, including the Lighter Side of Christmas Parade (see related story).