Grinning, Main Street awaits holiday shoppers |

Grinning, Main Street awaits holiday shoppers

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Doug Hollinger expects the cash register at his Park City Clothing Co. will be ringing through Christmas.

Perhaps, he says, the holiday shopping season will be the best in his 13 years on Main Street.

Hollinger, who sells Western ware, moving lots of shirts, cowboy boots and hats, predicts holiday business in 2006 could climb 10 percent or, even better, he says, 15 percent.

"We’re planning for it to be as good or better than last year and last year was a record for us," Hollinger says, acknowledging that it will be tough to match the soaring numbers he tallied in 2005. "It might not be a 25 percent increase like last year."

Defying what seems to be the conventional business idea that more competition will dilute the market, merchants on Main Street, still Park City’s most famous shopping district, are grinning as they enter the holiday shopping season.

The holidays are not as important to Main Street merchants as they are to stores in other places since in Park City they usually rely on the bustling ski season for much of their sales but the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a key period for Main Street anyway.

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This year, the Main Street merchants say, could be huge as Park City’s economy booms, Main Street continues to offer the area’s most eclectic mix of shops and the merchants organize to again present a holiday shopping promotion, known as ‘Holidays on Main.’

Also critical, they say, is the parking garage in Swede Alley that debuted in February, netting the Main Street core another 277 spots. City Hall officials hoped the garage, linked to the older China Bridge garage, would have been ready for the 2005 holidays but delays pushed the opening back, making 2006 the first holiday season that the garage is open.

The Holidays on Main and the parking garage are seen as enticements to shoppers, who have more choices than ever in the Park City area, making the competition to Main Street unprecedented. Redstone, a shopping center at Kimball Junction, and the emerging North of Main district, sometimes known as NoMa, are among the new destinations that some worry could siphon business from Main Street.

"We believe what we have here on the street is unique and fun if you want to get out of the malls, the chain-store environment," says Ken Davis, the leader of the Main Street merchants.

Davis notes the new garage, saying that Main Street has "substantial parking," and says that Interstate 80, the artery between the Salt Lake Valley and Park City, is not under construction this year.

"We have the parking facility finally complete. This is the first beginning of the holiday season we have the parking garage," Davis says.

He says, anecdotally, the 2005 holiday shopping season was up about 10 percent from the year before. He projects that the 2006 season will beat 2005. He says Main Street, with its Holidays on Main and the related Strike the Motherlode shopping promotion, will be festive and that Main Street offers lots of one-of-a-kind stores.

"We’re proud of what we’re doing," he says.

City Hall, in a concession to Main Street merchants, agreed to suspend downtown paid parking from Nov. 23 until Dec. 16. Some merchants have long complained that paid parking, which costs $1 per hour on Main Street, has hurt business. They say that there are lots of shopping areas with free parking, especially at Kimball Junction, and some people choose those spots to avoid the parking fees and the potential of getting a parking ticket.

In the NoMa district, where there are scattered shopping opportunities, Rodman Jordan, the NoMa leader, says the area is not competing with Main Street. He and others say if more shoppers are attracted to Park City, it is good for the city’s overall economy. He says that the merchants in NoMa sell different merchandise than those on Main Street anyway.

"It’s so easy for a Park City local to leave town and drive down to Salt Lake City or elsewhere in the county," Jordan says, adding, "We’re not even saying shop NoMa. We’re saying shop locally."

In the NoMa district, the merchants planned a ‘NoMel’ shopping promotion, its second year, which was scheduled on Friday.

The competition does not worry some on Main Street, like Felece Marks, who has had a specialty collectable store for almost 11 years in Old Town. She says holiday sales will probably be about the same as they were last year at F Marks Collectables. It is simple to get to Park City and, once shoppers are in the city, they will visit Main Street, she says.

"People are coming here with easy access. Main Street is Main Street," she says, adding, "It’s a fact."