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Shoppers turn out for Small Business Saturday

Local employees say this is the busiest holiday season they’ve seen in Durango
Cole Hollobaugh stops into Duranglers Flies and Supplies on Saturday in downtown Durango to pick up a few things. Business for the fishing shop is still going strong this year even though it typically wanes as winter approaches. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Shoppers turned out for Small Business Saturday along Main Avenue, according to several local shop owners who said this is the busiest season they’ve seen.

Lee Pillaro, who has worked at Duranglers Flies and Supplies for five years, said this late fall or early winter season has been the busiest for business that he’s experienced.

Pillaro said Black Friday was one of the busiest days in the last three months since the regular summer tourism season started to wane. He said business started off somewhat slow on Saturday, but before noon a steady stream of people had started to filter into the fly-fishing shop at 923 Main Ave.

Several shopkeepers along Main Avenue said this is the busiest Small Business Saturday they’ve experienced in Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Business typically slows down near the start of winter and doesn’t usually pick up again until around April, Pillaro said, but not this year.

“There’s still a lot of people coming in, supporting local businesses, getting out there and still fishing. Still buying stuff,” he said.

He said that at this time last year, they only had two people staffing the store. But on Saturday, there were four employees on the shop floor because business has been booming.

Shoppers and canines fill downtown Durango on Saturday as they make their way along Main Avenue. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“People, they’ve got time, they want to be outside,” Pillaro said. “I can’t tell you over this summer and last summer how many people have come in and said, ‘Hey, I’ve been wanting to get into fly-fishing for 10 years and I never had the time, and now I do.’”

Even though the fishing store has experienced better business than usual for this time of year, Duranglers Flies and Supplies would be having triple the business as normal if it weren’t for supply-chain backlogs, Pillaro said.

“In our industry, pretty much everything is made domestically or produced in China,” he said. “Everything from China is backed up in shipping and everything from domestic production had to shut down for a long time there at the start of COVID.”

The simple economic principles of supply and demand seem to be in play across outdoor industries, at least from Pillaro’s perspective.

“While they (fishing rod producers) were not producing anything, demand skyrocketed,” he said. “The companies that we deal with, they’re doing everything that they can to be able to get us what we need to sell to people.”

Pillaro said that not a day goes by when people visit the shop looking to buy something they’ve been yearning for, only to learn that the shop doesn’t have the item in stock, even though Duranglers normally would.

“It’s hard,” he said. “Normally, we can special order stuff and have it in a week or two, but with so much of the production backed off everywhere – and like I said, that’s across the outdoor industry, not just fly-fishing – it’s just hard to even special order anything for people.”

Shaina Atcitty, who works at Durango T-Shirt Co., attributed most pedestrian traffic and business the weekend after Thanksgiving to people visiting family who live in Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Pillaro said if he were to submit a custom order on Saturday, the item might not arrive until March. He described the situation as a double-edged sword: On one end, business is good for this time of year. But on the other end, custom orders and supply-chain issues are challenging to handle.

“Personally, knowing and working with our reps here and talking to actual people from these companies that supply us, they’re doing everything they can just to even that out, that supply and demand …,” he said. “But it might take till next summer.”

At Durango T-Shirt Co., 816 Main Ave., Shaina Atcitty, who’s worked for the clothing retailer for about six years, said this is the busiest year she’s encountered.

She said she isn’t exactly sure why turnout this holiday season is above average. She speculated that it might have to do with people finally getting outside after being cooped up at home away from COVID-19, or perhaps the weather has been warmer and more inviting than usual for late November.

But, she said, it’s pretty normal for families to travel to Durango for the holidays, and maybe 2021 is simply proving to be an exceptional year for that sort of activity.

“Mostly, they’re all visiting from out of state, usually from Texas or California,” she said. “We get people from all over.”

Atcitty said she expects the better-than-usual seasonal business to keep up until the New Year, at least. And although Durango hasn’t received much snow this fall as of Saturday, Atcitty said she hopes that changes because snow is good for business with skiers.

“Hopefully, we get snow because that’s when everyone comes in for skiing and all that,” she said. “But I think it (business) will be consistently like this.”

Karen Dabaghian and David Downing, who are relatively new to the Durango area, enjoyed some casual shopping on Saturday.

Dabaghian said she enjoys seeing people out and about and looking at the work of local artisans that is hosted at local stores, such as Urban Market, where she had just made a purchase.

“That (artisanship) seems like it’s kind of a lost art or a disappearing art,” she said. “I just bought this really cool platter from here, Urban, but it’s from a local artisan, which I just think is so cool.”

Earlier on Saturday, Dabaghian had visited Animas Chocolate & Coffee Co. before dropping by Maria’s Bookshop.

Her next destinations were two clothing boutiques farther along Main Avenue.

She said she was trying to get some Christmas gift shopping out of the way so that she has time to mail them ahead of Dec. 25.

“(I’m shopping for) kids, friends, folks from afar,” she said. “I’m trying to get it done so I can get it in the mail. I don’t know how long things are going to take.“

Dabaghian said she’s thinking ahead in terms of shipping gifts this year more than in previous years.

Downing said his Saturday shopping spree was nice because shops weren’t too crowded and contained a nice selection of items.

“It’s been good, no complaints,” he said.

He said he accomplished some of his holiday shopping online through Amazon Prime. All he had to do is make sure they were scheduled for delivery within a reasonable time frame.

Dabaghian and Downing agreed they prefer browsing the local stores over trudging through large malls.

“It’s nice not having to go to a crazy suburban mall,” Downing said.

Dabaghian agreed.

“I don’t miss the malls at all,” she said. “This is just way more fun. It’s great to be outside. I’m definitely coming out for the Noel Nite.”

Dabaghian said she loves the idea of shopping local, even if that appears to be more difficult.

“I think it’s hard to do, it’s getting harder (to support local businesses),” she said. “You have to make it intentional.”

cburney@durangoherald.com

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