Vail businesses report a strong Christmas |

Vail businesses report a strong Christmas

Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyAnnie Galvin, facing, shares a laugh with Rob Ellis at the Tap Room in Vail, Colorado. The establishment, like many in the Valley this weekend, was packed.

VAIL, Colorado ” Tom Sapiro is feeling pretty good these days about business in Vail, Colorado.

Sapiro, owner of the Double Diamond Ski Shop, said he’s at, or close to, some of the sales levels set last year, before the national economy nosedived and took a big part of the Vail Valley’s naturally bullish disposition with it.

“Last year was something of an anomaly,” Sapiro said. “But we’re exceeding what we did two, three and four years ago. I’m in a very good mood.”

Sapiro ” who also opened a shoe store in Lionshead this year ” is in a happy minority these days, but other area business owners and managers said monstrous December snow has helped business, and people’s attitudes.

“People are having a good time,” Sitzmark general manager Jeanne Fritch said. And, she added, there are quite a few people in town.

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“I was on the hill this morning,” Fritch said Monday. “Both the mazes to the VistaBahn were full at noon.”

While the Sitzmark had rooms available on Christmas, Fritch said the hotel is full for New Year’s, and reservations are fairly strong into January.

But the Sitzmark is usually full of loyal guests over holidays, and Fritch said the hotel is scrambling for guests a little more these days.

Not far away, Jen Bruno feels pretty good about the buying decisions she and her husband made for the Luca Bruno shops.

“We didn’t order as many big-ticket items this year, and we were correct not ordering them,” Jen Bruno said.

The Luca Bruno stores have seen fewer customers, Bruno said, and those customers aren’t as likely to splurge on more expensive items. To get people in the stores, the Brunos are having more trunk sales this winter, and actually put up some sale racks over Christmas.

“We’ve never done that before,” she said. But, Bruno added, people coming in for sale merchandise often buy something off the full-price racks, too.

With stores on Gore Creek Drive and Vail Road, the Brunos get to see a lot of Vail’s street life.

“You noticed less people last week,” Bruno said. “This week is about average. But you see less people at night. People may be spending their evenings in.”

If people may be spending less, they’re also waiting to spend.

Fritch said her last-minute reservations are up, and people reserving ski equipment at the Double Diamond are booking just a days in advance of their arrival.

“We just had a customer who said he’d booked his family into the Arrabelle two weeks earlier,” Sapiro said.

In Lionshead, Bill Suarez, owner of Billy’s Island Grill, said his business is down between 5 and 10 percent from last year at this time.

“But since Christmas, we’re almost even with last year,” Suarez said. “The crowds are here, but not as many people as last year.”

Suarez was reached on his cell phone atop Vail Mountain, where he was getting his first turns in since before the Christmas rush hit.

“It’s unbelievable,” Suarez said. “The sun’s out, it’s not that cold and I’m remembering why I live here.”

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