For many big retailers, Black Friday is a critical piece of the annual profit puzzle. But for merchants in downtown Durango, Black Friday doesnt even scratch the surface of what Noel Night means to their bottom lines.
Noel Night is our Black Friday, said Aaron Perlman, owner of Durango Sports Zone and Trinkets and Treasures shops on Main Avenue.
Nearly 100 local merchants will participate this year, event planners said. Downtown stores will offer discounts on products and services, and visitors can take advantage of free gift wrapping at specified times and locations. Children will enjoy a pajama party and visits with Santa. Hot chocolate will keep everyone warm. And live entertainment will be offered throughout the day with the help of local magicians, dancers, singers, musicians, bands and carolers.
It has really turned into a festive social occasion as well as a shopping event, said LeeAnn Vallejos, managing director of Local First, the organization that took over planning for the Noel Night event last year.
Despite reports that last years event created record sales for numerous downtown retailers, Vallejos turned credit for the successes back to the merchants and the two really amazing individuals who started the event nine years ago, Jane Gould and Nancy Juliana.
They laid the foundation. We just took it to the next level, Vallejos said.
The events growing success is an achievement with crucial impact, according to local business owners.
Perlman and several other Main Avenue merchants said recently they dont see a major uptick in business on Black Friday as area shoppers take to large malls and discount stores for shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But local shoppers save a piece of their holiday shopping budgets for Noel Night year after year, and its what helps keep many of the downtown stores afloat through the year.
Durango Chamber of Commerce Director Jack Llewellyn said the impacts extend beyond local businesses budgets, too.
Noel night is a huge night for local sales taxes, Llewellyn said. Economically, it does have a large impact for our community.
But more than that, its an important way for community members to connect, he said.
To me, the community spirit is embraced by Noel Night, Llewellyn said.
Vallejos said the key goal behind the event is to remind residents of the important role local shopping can play in keeping the local economy robust. It also is a remarkable achievement in a tough economy for so many local businesses to be willing to collaborate with their time and money to pull off such an expansive event, she said.
Even businesses with no stakes in the holiday shopping craze, such as area Realtors, are involved this year, Vallejos said.
Were hoping this will really drive locals shopping trends this year, Vallejos said. Not only can you get a good deal downtown on Noel Night, but its a great reminder of all these great businesses we have downtown.