Arts festival, Tour of Utah bring in the people — but where will they spend?
July 31, 2015
With a pair of high-profile events on Main Street this weekend and the next, the town will be bubbling with excitement.
But whether the frenzy pumps dough into the cash registers of each and every Main Street merchant is up for debate. Alison Butz, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said it’s tough to determine or predict how the Park City Kimball Arts Festival (which was scheduled to begin Friday and wrap up Sunday) and the seventh stage of the Tour of Utah bike race (set for August 9) effects specific retailers.
The arts fest, in particular, has a long track record of being tough to prognosticate. But overall, Butz said it’s typically good for businesses. They can see a bump while the festival is going on, or from visitors who come back to shop later.
"There are definitely businesses on Main Street that see great sales that weekend," she said, adding that restaurants normally do well, particularly on Friday evening. "There are others that don’t. What we can’t identify, but we feel is out there, is how many people who go to the arts fest and see something in a window or see a store and return to Main Street later. That’s a demographic that we don’t have yet."
Casey Crawford, owner of the Main Street clothing store Prospect, said she typically sees a 10-percent spike in sales during the festival.
"I think it’s just because there are so many people on Main Street," she said.
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Kristen Moss, however, said that traffic at Flight Boutique, a Main Street store of which she is a co-owner, is much less predictable that weekend.
"It just kind of depends on the crowd that it brings," she said. "Some clientele are looking for what we have, but others aren’t. If we get a lot of lookers and not shoppers, obviously that affects our business."
Still, Moss wants the festival to remain on Main Street for the long term. She buys into the notion that a lot of people come back to town to shop.
"The exposure is great for us," she said. "People think Park City is so far away, so even just getting those tourists from Salt Lake and other areas of Utah is nice. It gets our foot in the door for a lot of people. I think it’s a great event that gets people up to Park City and shows them what Main Street has to offer."
The situation for retailers during arts fest isn’t always rosy, though. Butz said closing Main Street to traffic can make it difficult for stores to receive deliveries. Often, they have to bring them in from Swede Alley, though the festival’s organizers do their best to accommodate businesses when that’s not possible.
Crawford added that her employees must either walk or bus to get to work because of a lack of parking and access.
"Park City has such a bad parking problem anyway," she said. "So add an event and you multiply it by 20."
The benefits of the Tour of Utah seem to be less clear to retailers than those of the arts festival. While Butz said the event brings fewer logistical concerns, it also attracts fewer people looking to spend cash on what local merchants peddle.
Moss said the Tour of Utah doesn’t affect her business one way or another, but the downsides are more stark for Crawford.
"It kills our business," Crawford said. "It attracts a different crowd that’s not necessarily here to shop. They’re here to see a bike race, not really shopping. But I still think the event is cool and I’m happy it’s here."
Most Main Street merchants seem pleased big events such as the arts festival and Tour of Utah are held in town. But some near Kimball Junction are much less pleased. Laura Coleman, who owns the Redstone clothing store Safanova, said that while Main Street may see a bump, her store gets hammered.
"It’s really slow for us because everything is going to Main Street," she said. "It’s a big deal. Summer should be bringing people in town, but because there’s not much going on down here, we unfortunately suffer.
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