Heavy rain and snow slowed holiday shopping Friday on Main Avenue but didn’t stop shoppers from looking for bargains.
Some business owners expected sales to pick up as wet weather eased, but they didn’t seem worried, saying Black Friday is more critically important for big-box stores. Downtown businesses tend to see strong sales throughout the holiday season, owners said.
“We stay super busy through December. It’s bonkers in here throughout most of the month,” said Micki Hassemer, owner of the gallery Sticks and Stones.
Nationally, holiday sales are predicted to increase 3.8% to 4.2% compared with 2018 and generate $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
For Hassemer, Black Friday has historically been all over the board for sales, which tend to depend heavily on weather, she said.
“I tend to have better luck with the snow than the rain,” she said.
At Pine Needle Dry Goods, snow and cold weather can be a boon for sales, although sales were off to a slow start Friday, said Ashley Gonnella, an owner.
“It makes it easier to sell ski jackets when it starts snowing,” Gonnella said, with a smile.
The owners of Pine Needle Mountaineering opened Pine Needle Dry Goods within the last year and found that smaller items such as books, stickers, candles and jewelry have been popular among shoppers, Gonnella said.
Holiday shoppers Peter and Kirsten Bilan and their son, Jack, all from Albuquerque, were among those who braved the weather Friday to shop in local stores. While pausing under an awning, Peter Bilan said the family might buy an umbrella and sweatshirt next.
“We are more concerned about the weather than good deals,” Kirsten Bilan said.
Another shopper, Mark Partridge, said he hoped visiting small, local businesses would bolster city coffers.
“A downtown that is bereft of local business is a dead downtown,” he said in Sticks and Stones.
While some braved the snow in search of Black Friday deals, about 20 residents, including the Durango Street Band, gathered on Main Avenue to participate in a global climate strike and mark “Buy Nothing Day.” The day is meant to encourage shoppers to cut their consumption.
Protesters braved freezing temperatures and blowing graupel to share messages about protecting the climate. Some signs read: “Planet before profit” and “The oceans are rising and so are we.” The group was met with supportive honks from passing cars.
“I think personal awareness of what you consume and how you are contributing to the larger global picture is really critical, but that in and of itself is not enough,” said Ellis McNichol, who organized the protest.
McNichol would like to see residents also hold politicians accountable by voting and attending Durango City Council meetings to ensure concrete plans are made to cut carbon.
Reuters reported climate strikes were expected to happen Friday in 2,300 cities and 153 countries.