Sundance a mixed bag for Main Street | ParkRecord.com

Sundance a mixed bag for Main Street

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

Main Street merchants say they can’t help comparing business during each Sundance Film Festival to the one in 2008 the most profitable year ever.

It’s hard to discuss how the 10 days went without 2008 coming up like a ghost to be forgotten or a benchmark to be reached.

Perhaps the most objective are those for whom this year was the first. Robert Reyes, owner of Reyes Adobe, said he was a little disappointed. Business was up 20 percent, but he expected better.

Kaycee Ryann at Lindzee O’Michaels said they had half as much business as was hoped for.

Expectations aside, the last weeks of January appear to have been a mixed bag, with some establishments calling it a success, for others it was flat.

Mulligan’s owner John Sutton described the 10 days as lackluster, and Steve Curtis with O’Shucks said he thinks fewer star gazers came out this year.

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"It was mild," Curtis said. "It was more of a working crowd rather than a partying crowd."

Joey Rusconi, manager at Wasatch Brew Pub, said it was a little better than 2009, but said even the years prior to 2008 were better.

Also, wallets were tighter than in years past.

"There’s not as much money thrown around people inquired more about what things cost," he added.

Ryann also said even though this was her first year at Lindzee O’Michaels, she’s worked many festivals before this one and really thought the recession was still dampening bar attendance.

Debbie Axtell, owner of Café Terigo, said she noticed fewer people out on the street than what she’s seen in her previous 22 years working during Sundance, but said her personal sales looked good.

For whatever reason, several other businesses agreed, saying with all things considered it was a good 10 days.

Meghan McComas, manager at Prime Steakhouse, said it was up from last year and called it decent. She thinks the difference between those happy and those disappointed may be as simple as size. Bigger clubs and restaurants can market themselves better, she said.

It could also be the ability to attract repeat business in private parties and events. Axtell said she hosted the same special parties as in the past, and that helped her make a profit. Jerry Gilomen, owner of Riverhorse on Main, said he hosted over a dozen repeat events. That, combined with reserving area for regular dining almost every evening made 2010 the most profitable year in 11 festivals aside from 2008.

Mary Potts Olson, director of sales and events for Bill White Enterprises said private parties helped make this festival an improvement over last year’s.

Planning for the worst helped as well, she said. Knowing the economy was still poor, Olson said the company was planning for another down year. When it was an improvement over 2009, they were quite pleased.

But recent changes made by the Sundance Institute are bringing the festival "back to its roots," and that’s affecting business as well. Big crowds tend to only come the first four days now that it’s less commercial less "glitzy," she said.

With fewer unsanctioned corporate sponsors attending, and more hotels opening each year, there is more competition for the attendees’ business than in the past, she added.

Brooks Addicott, spokesperson for the Institute, said attendance numbers wont’ be released for several more weeks, but said festival attendance doesn’t always translate to foot traffic on Main Street because the theaters are scattered throughout the area.