Galleries get behind summer business
Park City’s gallery owners know that the crush of crowds in the winter months means big business, a time to make sales and keep inventory up as clients walk through the door ready to see the latest from the art community. A ski town at heart, Park City is known for its charm, its fresh powder and its three resorts, but that leaves three other seasons in the year for galleries to attract that high-dollar client who keeps their businesses afloat and summer is the new, up-and-coming season for art sales.
Over the past five years, summer sales for the Park City art galleries has grown in importance, to the point where galleries are open for the summer months and extending their hours.
"In the six years I have been here, there has always been some kind of summer season," said Chris Myers, owner of Dancing Hands Gallery and board member for the Park City Art Gallery Association. "As far as percentages go, those percentages growing every year. Park City is becoming a recreational town, not just a ski town. Now we have triathlons, bike races, motor car races. The Chamber/Bureau is doing more and more to bring events into Park City."
For Dancing Hands Gallery, summer months have been important since the business first opened seven years ago. Since then, Myer has seen more galleries open for business through the summer and even has months where business in a summer month has outperformed a winter month in sales.
"We know we have the draw for the winter months, because I have had customers who came in this year and said they came to Park City just because they loved the galleries," Myer said. "What we want to do now is draw more people in the summer. But the galleries need a certain clientele."
Drawing that clientele those who collect art, who have the money to spend on pieces and who could potentially become repeat customers at the gallery is where galleries are starting to rely on high-end properties such as the St. Regis, Montage or Waldorf Astoria. With a number of high-end properties entering the market in recent years, some galleries are seeing more art buyers.
"Properties like the St. Regis and Montage helped pull in new groups, and brought us better numbers in the spring and fall even," said Maren Mullin, president of the Historic Park City Alliance and owner of Gallery MAR. "There have been times in the past where I’ve closed down the gallery for months at a time, finding it really wasn’t worth it to me to be there for April or May. That’s no longer the case."
After nine years working in the art galleries dotting Park City’s Main Street, Mullin said business could not be better in the summers. She has clients who started buying at the gallery in the winter months, but are now flying to Park City to experience summer. Mullin also said she saw more locals from the Wasatch Front area coming up to Park City to buy, with summer sales matching those from the winter.
"I think the secret about Park City summers has gotten out," she said. "People are wandering in and out of galleries. In July and August, we’re seeing more collectors fly into town to enjoy the summer activities and visit the galleries."
As summer is recognized as a growing piece of Park City tourism, galleries are taking notice of the uptick in business. Using grants from the Chamber/Bureau and the Park City Area Restaurant Association, the Park City Art Gallery Association started increasing marketing dollars toward summer visitors this year, advertising with a national magazine for two months in the summer and one month in the winter.
"Summer is important for everyone," said Alison Butz, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance. "Trying to run a business off of three months of sales is hard to do. The rising number of summer visitors has helped stabilize businesses more so that they can run year round."
Park City Municipal created an economic development plan following the Olympics that would rebrand Park City as a year-round resort town. More and more, business organizations and groups were pairing up to create summer calendars and advertise events together, Butz said.
"We want to make sure that the summer is a season merchants can count on," she added. "With all of our efforts, Park City has doubled the number of events in summer.
"I know a lot of emphasis has been placed on summer, and we’re starting to see fruits of that labor."
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Park City has published the annual community guide to the Sundance Film Festival, an online booklet jammed with information about navigating Park City during what is normally the busiest stretch of the year.