Hot holiday sales reported |

Hot holiday sales reported

Cliff Thompson
Bret Hartman / Vail DailyCindy Thomas, left, and Jodi Dulian walk their dog Tate Tuesday while they do a little after Christmas window shopping at the Riverwalk shopping area in Edwards.

EAGLE COUNTY – Retail sales here bucked the doldrums that affected the rest of the country during the holidays.The driving force: The red-hot real estate market that has been setting records since August 2003.For retailers like Nancy Rehder, owner of the Linen Kist in Avon, it has been a months-long sprint that started early last summer. “It just broke loose this year and hasn’t stopped since June,” she said. “When the real estate industry is hot the whole valley is.”The influx of people purchasing second homes and refurbishing them has created demand that has trickled down to local specialty and general retail shops, and has caused business to boom, she said.The hottest seller at Rehder’s store during the pre-Christmas buying blitz was bath robes. “We couldn’t grab them fast enough,” she said.This year’s holiday sales are much better than last year’s, she said.

Linen Kist customer Susan Washing of Avon said she spent more on Christmas presents this year than last. Washing’s shopping mirrors a trend nationally that is seeing an increase in on-line sales. She guessed she spent one-third of her money shopping locally; one-third shopping out of the area and one third shopping on-line.Parking-space competitionIn Edwards shoppers were so thick that the competition for parking spaces at times resembled the free-for-all that sometimes occurs in urban shopping malls. There is no charge for parking in Edwards.”It was just crazy two days before Christmas,” said Justine Reed of the White Balcony, a specialty gifts store in Riverwalk. “The whole week before Christmas it was hard not find someone in the store. Everyone was saying they couldn’t find parking.”Reed doubled the volume of sales logged last Christmas, she said.

“A lot of locals were specifically doing a lot of shopping for stocking stuffers,” she said.For Jean Anderson at Artelana, a clothing store in Riverwalk specializing in alpaca and vicuña clothing, the pre-Christmas period was busy and quite a bit of business came from Vail.”We had lots of people here from Vail,” she said. “Parking here was like being in the city.”Farther east the pre-Christmas rush at the Vail Valley Ace Hardware store in West Vail was intense, said owner Loren Gifford.”For a couple of days before Christmas, we were running around with our tongues hanging out,” he said. The hot item this year was laser levels that vary in price from $30 to more than $100, Gifford said.

Course changeBut Gifford said gift purchasers this Christmas were reversing long-established gender-based buying trends, too.”We’re starting to see a trend where guys are spending more time in the kitchen and women are purchasing repair tools,” he said. “We’re seeing more cross-buying. It wasn’t too many years ago the kitchen was for women and tools for guys.”Christmas week is typically one of the busiest of the ski season in resort towns in Eagle County. Early reservation numbers from local lodging outlets and booking organizations indicate finding accommodation was tough during the holiday.”When we’ve got full rooms everyone is busy,” said Gifford. “When everyone is busy, we are too.”Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 450, or Colorado

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