Park City small businesses hope for a big comeback, starting on Saturday
Park City’s small businesses are hoping for a big comeback from the economic damage of the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The traditional start to the holiday shopping season is on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but Park City leaders want people to continue to make purchases the next day. The Park City Council recently proclaimed Nov. 28 to be Small Business Saturday. It is designed to nudge shoppers toward locally owned businesses, which tend to be smaller than national chains. The Small Business Saturday promotion is annual, but there appears to be more urgency this year in the months after the spring shutdowns, the continuing economic uncertainty with the sickness spreading and the unknowns regarding the ski season.
The City Council did not discuss the Small Business Saturday resolution in any depth, but the elected officials see themselves as supporters of small, locally owned businesses. The resolution is similar to those endorsed by elected officials in previous years. It says the community supports local businesses, indicating they create employment opportunities and “boost our local economy and preserve our communities.” It also says City Hall “celebrates our local small businesses and the contributions they make to our local economy and community.”
The elected officials in the resolution “urge the residents of our community, and communities across the country, to support small businesses and merchants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.”
A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the recent meeting, meanwhile, said “the hard work and ingenuity of our small business owners are helping to sustain our economic strength, vitality and authenticity.”
Small Business Saturday dates to 2010, when American Express founded the national promotion as the U.S. was attempting to exit the recessionary era of a decade ago.
The holiday shopping season is not as critical to Park City as it is to many other places since the core months of the ski season normally are more lucrative for the business community than the approximately one month between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas. Still, there are numerous small retailers that consider the holiday shopping season as a bridge between the fall shoulder season and the ski season.
This year, though, shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be especially welcomed in Park City as the retail industry continues a comeback from the coronavirus-forced early end to the 2019-2020 ski season and the spring business shutdowns. Some sectors performed solidly since the middle of the year, but others did not share in what has been a nascent recovery.
Main Street is preparing for the holiday shopping season, indicating the holiday lights that crisscross the street will be illuminated for the first time this season on Saturday. The promotion with large snow globes placed along the street officially launches on Saturday.
The Historic Park City Alliance, which represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core, organized the promotion with the snow globes and has held a key role since the spring in crafting an overall business plan addressing the concerns about the coronavirus for the shopping, dining and entertainment strip.
Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, predicted business on Main Street will be “strong and steady” on Saturday. She also noted there is a so-called multiplier effect when someone spends money locally, estimating each dollar spent in Park City is then spent four more times in the community.
She also described Main Street, with an expensive reputation, as having affordable options like jewelry, books and socks.
“There are a good number of people who shop on Main Street for the holidays,” Kuhlow said.
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The Park City Police Department last week received reports of drivers struggling in a late-season snowstorm. The complaints were logged in various locations inside the city. The accidents did not appear to be serious.