Manitou merchants find mixed results in holiday shopping season

Christmas sales viewed as springboard to flood, fire recovery

Holiday Shopping: Naughty or Nice For Manitou Merchants?

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Business owners in Manitou Springs hope the Christmas season will mark the end of a two-year period of disasters and symbolize an economic recovery.

Merchants have struggled since the 2012 Waldo Canyon wildfire and after several major flash floods this summer.  The disasters have discouraged many visitors from coming to town.

Business owners, however, found mixed results from this year's holiday shopping season.

Julie Vance, owner of the America's Best Value Inn Villa Motel, said expectations of success should be tempered by the fact that the Christmas season coincides with the town's slowest time of the year for sales.

"I wouldn't say there's been much of a recovery on the lodging side," she said.  "I'm off probably 30 percent from last December.  But when December only accounts for 2 to 3 percent of your year, that would be the month to be off."

The flooding occurred during the first year of business for the Good Karma Coffee Lounge and Deli.  Owner Kelly Myers said she's still recovering from losing merchandise stored in her basement.

"(Still) things are going well for us," she said.  "We're still plugging along.  Now we're really getting into the slow season.  We're all nervous here in Manitou."

Steve Kudron is selling his Quacker Gift Shop to a neighboring business -- not because of the fire or flood, but because he wants to focus on another business he owns.  He said the holiday season was good for many merchants.

"We had a great opportunity," he said.  "People came back.  Our local chamber did a real nice job promoting it and bringing people in on the weekends."

Business owners said the keys to their success are relying more on local customers and less on tourists; reducing the impact of flood-related closures; encouraging customers to not be afraid to visit during rainy weather; and relying more on social media to give customers real-time information about conditions in town.

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