Some Edwards, Eagle businesses starting to pick up
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Business people everywhere are searching for signs of an improving economy. In Vail Village and Beaver Creek, businesses have been celebrating a successful Christmas season. But downvalley businesses, where tourists aren’t as plentiful, are starting to see some positive signs, too.
Chris Ryan is the co-owner of the Grand Ave. Grill in Eagle, right on U.S. Highway 6 through town. After some tough times the past couple of years, Ryan said her place is starting to bustle again, at least somewhat.
“We’ve been seeing a big boom in airport traffic,” Ryan said. “It’s awesome.”
But most of the time, the Grand Avenue depends on locals. Ryan acknowleged that her restaurant has lost customers.
“Now I think there are people who have money and people who don’t, and those who do are coming in,” Ryan said.
Despite the losses, though, Ryan said her restaurant is doing better than it was last year.
In downtown Eagle, Everyday Outfitters owner Erin Seabury agreed with Ryan’s assessment of the local market.
“People seem to by buying what they want, but not everything they want,” Seabury said.
Seabury said people in her store seem to be buying fashions that are somewhat timeless, like boots, jeans and sweaters.
“This is America, and we’re built on capitalism,” Seabury said. “I think people are saying, ‘I’ve gone without, and now this is what I need.'”
And, Seabury added, there’s still a core of people shopping her store who believe in going to a store instead of going online to shop.
“We’re very thankful for them,” she said.
In Edwards, Nicole Magistro, owner of The Bookworm, has taken advantage of the down economy to expand her store, particularly the cafe and seating area. Her store, too, is doing somewhat better business than it did a year ago.
“We’re pleased with how business is going,” Magistro said. “We’re seeing plenty of traffic in Riverwalk overall.”
Most of that traffic is from locals, but Jamie Malin, co-owner of The Kind bike and ski shop, said his shop sees its share of tourists, too. Many of those tourists are friends and relatives visiting second-home owners in Arrowhead or Cordillera.
“The last couple of years those weren’t coming to visit,” Malin said. Between rentals and gear sales, Malin said his store’s business is up more than 20 percent over the last holiday season.
Also in Riverwalk, Faith Bleesz, co-owner of Brush Creek Outfitters said that store is about even with last year’s sales, but, had an entrepreneur’s optimism that better days are ahead.
“We’re hoping things will start to pick up in 2011,” Bleesz said.
While the other people interviewed for this story just have single stores, John Shipp operates both in the resort and locals’ markets, with Dusty Boot Steakhouses in Eagle, Beaver Creek and Keystone. He said sales at all three restaurants have been better this year than last.
“Business has been good everywhere, but actually Keystone’s been the best,” Shipp said. “Eagle’s actually doing quite well – we had the best December since we opened there,” he said.
Shipp said the Eagle restaurant has hosted several company parties this year, and has hosted a number of corporate events at the Beaver Creek location.
“But Keystone has been up dramatically,” Shipp said. “That may be a national economic bellwether. We see a lot of people from Denver, Texas and the Midwest there. It’s been a nice resurgence.
“It seems like people are being more prudent, but they’re spending again,” Shipp said. “That’s what we want – we want people to save wisely, and spend prudently, but often.”