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Downtown Businesses Ready for the Holidays

Springs Spotlight

It’s been a tough year for businesses – particularly small businesses. But Downtown Colorado Springs? This nimble, innovative one-mile swath of our city has largely sidestepped the mass closings seen elsewhere.

“We have really done remarkably well and, frankly, better than I expected at the beginning of this year,” said Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of Downtown Partnership, a member-based nonprofit organization.

So far, the number of closings are comparable to last year and, interestingly, so are the number of openings.

“My concern is getting through winter. We know some harder times are still to come,” Edmondson said. “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

The Challenges

Most businesses have taken a hit – especially restaurants, live-event venues, fitness centers and movie theaters. Independent retailers, too, have been clawing their way back from the shutdowns earlier this year.

“Really, our strength has become our challenge,” she said.

Large chain stores and restaurants rely on information and support from headquarters.

Downtown, however, the chef who owns a restaurant may also be navigating how to access relief funds and comply with fluctuating regulations.

The Innovations

The upside? When the going gets tough, it’s easier for local businesses to swiftly shift directions. Downtown shops, restaurants and venues have gone online, outside, above and beyond to ensure their customers are safe and happy.

A few examples:  

The key to success, Edmondson said, is changing consumer sentiment about winter. Really, it’s no different than drinking a beer outside at a ski lodge. But for those struggling to embrace dinner outdoors in cooler weather, she suggests lunch in the Colorado sunshine.

“It’s a little bit of a culture shift, getting people to think … differently about wearing an extra layer,” she said, adding that it’s important to support local shops and restaurants now, so they will still be here when the pandemic ends.    

The Holidays

Downtown retailers need a strong holiday season. That’s why they’re pulling out all the stops to make the holidays magical:

  • Skate in the Park – traditional favorite in Acacia Park
  • Holidays with My Gnomies – scavenger hunt and creative exploration
  • Downtown Adventure Packages – carefully curated menu of “experience” gifts in every price range
  • Holiday Stroll – evening of shopping at all of your favorite shops with one-night-only specials
  • Gift Cards – retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues offer gift cards, and Downtown Partnership offers its own, good at more than 100 businesses

“You are not going to find a more pleasant holiday experience than downtown Colorado Springs,” Edmondson said. “We have the only outdoor ice skating rink in the Pikes Peak region, which is so beloved. Beautiful, white twinkle lights in the trees. And the charm of our more historic downtown, there’s nothing else like that anywhere.”