Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Black Friday came and went, and most businesses reported a steady stream of visitors in the Nederland area. It was not a winter wonderland in the mountains, as steady wind blew away most of the snow, plumes scattered off the roofs and trees, and skittering, mixed gravel and dust rolled down the dirt roads of Ned side streets.
That didn’t keep the down below people from heading up to the hills. On Saturday, Small Business Day, the gift stores in Nederland were slammed, and shopkeepers said it was a fantastic way to begin the shopping season. With Eldora Mountain Resort firing up the new Alpenglow lift, a six-seat, under-five-minute ride up the mountain, Nederland got the early morning and late afternoon Ned ski traffic.
Small Business Day was first held country-wide on November 27, 2010, joining Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the scuffle to grab and hold shoppers. Small Business Saturday is a registered trademark of American Express, which began as a holiday television advertising campaign. Local politicians and small business groups made proclamations encouraging small businesses and local shoppers in small towns to jump on the campaign, to keep holiday money in town.
“I always come out on Small Business Day,” said longtime local Ressa Smith who brought a bunch of relatives to town to browse the shops of Ned.
In small towns, shopping isn’t a matter of finding what you came for, it’s the process of being inspired along the way; of having a gift speak to you, saying, “I am perfect for your sister-in-law’s mother.” Oh yeah, cross that one of the list.
Small businesses allow you the time to appreciate the effort that owners have put into gussying up their shops. The experience is far more pleasant than stepping on the conveyor belt at a large store, being hustled along the aisle to the cash registers where you empty your pockets, and then swooshed out of the store once the payment has been made.
Liquor stores are always chaotic this time of year, and personal service is needed and appreciated. Choosing the perfect wine, aperitif, craft beer, or whiskey demands that experts be on hand to explain how alcohol works with food, to mingle tastes and sensations.
The Peak Wine and Spirits store has a large inventory of local specialties and good deals of the season. At the counter, a large jar containing small bottles of fun stocking stuffers catches the eye. The prominent brand in the 99-cent jar is Bird Dog, which boasts herbal, apple, maple, chocolate and citrus ginger flavored whiskey.
Resquwater, a hangover remedy, is available for those who get carried away, when imbibing meets the point of diminishing returns. This medicinal recipe should be purchased at the same time as one’s liquor needs.
Another gift option is the special holiday bottles which are gorgeous works of art on their own; for example, the Chambord Raspberry Liqueur.
If you have been looking for Jerry Garcia for a long time, the Business Connection is a good place to get serious about finding him. Each day, Jerry, a rag doll look-a-like, will be hidden somewhere in the store. He could be stuck in a roll of holiday wrapping paper, scrunched down in a box of other stuffed people or hanging from the ceiling in a precarious position. Anyone who finds Jerry gets a 20 percent discount on all purchases for that day. The deal will be available all day every day, and the search will go on through Christmas.
Custom made holiday cards are in demand, and now, if the cards come in on a spread sheet, they can be stamped and mailed from the store. What could be a long, tedious endeavor can be as simple as bringing in a photo or written words and letting Business Connection elves do the work.
First Street in Nederland had its doors open, letting in the sunshine, along with the customers, who moseyed along, window shopping and greeting each other.
Will and Anne Wilson left Native Neds, in the parking lot across from Rocky Mountain Oyster Bar. Will carried a large wooden lamp stand, a pleased grin on his face. He said they were visiting from Florida and wanted to find something for their house and the hand-hewn floor lamp was perfect. Sam Bowen was watching the shop for the day and was pleased with sales on Saturday.
“People are looking for smaller, more inexpensive gifts,” he said. He said that last year’s Frozen Dead Guy Days t-shirts are also selling well, people wanting to bring home that one-of-a-kind gift you can’t get in Kankakee.
Next door, in the Wings of Lace Boutique, sweaters were the hot item, specifically the Aztec sweaters, which are 25 percent off, and come in rich earthy colors. The shop has a brilliant display of scarves to match any sweater that is chosen. A display of bralettes captures one’s attention: bras meant to be worn with a little bit showing. Popular leggings are available in warm, winter thick, well-fitting styles for $27. A whole outfit to be acquired in the space of one aisle.
Aa couple from Georgia popped into One Brown Mouse, saying they had looked at the map, drove around the back roads and ended up on First Street.
“We travel all over the place and we like it here a lot,” they said. “Now that we’ve been here, we’ll come back.”
That’s fine with Kathleen Chippi, who says she had a really good Saturday, happy to have sold nine hats in four hours. She said talking to people is her best business promotion.
“I constantly strike up a conversation with people in the shop. I once spent a good hour talking to these people who visited and the next weekend, one of them showed up with a $50 white chocolate, raspberry cream cake, thanking me for making their trip to Nederland a more than enjoyable experience. It is so laid back, so different than where they came from.”
At the corner of First Street and Hwy. 119, Nature’s Own was packed. There was a traffic jam at the entrance, with more people trying to get in than out. Inside the store, it was difficult to move from one aisle to the next as shoppers paused to inspect gems and jewelry.
Nature’s Own employee Mike Parker says the crowd is typical during the holiday shopping period, that their products are memorable and high quality. Noah Alpert, 3, grabbed a stuffed snake that was twice as tall as he is, hoping he would get to keep it.
Parker said the most amazing item they have this is year is the Utah Dendrites, a pseudo-fossil that looks like, but is not, a fern. The delicate patterns found on this layered sandstone is manganese oxide pressed between the layers like frost on a window pane. The patterns are stains that form on the surface of the rock and are revealed when the layers are split. The dendrites are covered with lifelike images that glow from the layers of manganese.
Also on First Street, the Rustic Moose probably has the largest variety of locally made and commercially produced Nederland specific items. It would take hours to see everything on display in the shop. Warm, soft, jackets, shirts, socks, hats, scarves galore. This shop too was packed with shoppers drawn in by the intriguing window display and unable to leave without buying at least one item.
Local resident Lois Ott found exactly what she was looking for: the locally made Beer Bread dough. Contained in bottles that look like they are a craft beer, the package contains everything needed to make beer bread, except the beer.
At the Mountain People’s Co-op, which is right next door, visitors are greeted with the multi-fragrance of the candle shop: lavender mingling with vanilla, citrus and spice blends and a stunning display of dream catcher jars that are stunning in their misty shades of purple and pink. The shop has all the fresh spices one needs for holiday cooking.
On Second Street, The Nederland Feed and Pet Shop says animals always need food no matter what holiday it is, and people come in filled with the holiday spirit and the desire to share some goodies with their pets.
Some out of town people bring their dogs with them when they visit and some treats on hand are much appreciated, like duck necks and turkey tails. Adam Pause, owner of the feed store, says they have already sold half of their pet toys and will have to order more.
Perry’s shoe repair store is next door to the Feed Store. The Perry’s say they are lucky to have found a place in Boulder County to continue their business, which has heretofore been in Boulder.
Becky Perry says they have had a wonderful week so far and their boots are hiking off the shelves. She says people are dropping by, liking to see and touch the articles they might purchase. The children’s Bogs are skipping off the shelves. The parents, and the kids, love the fact that they have a grasp that assists them in pulling on their boots.
The African Market Baskets in the Overseas Connection warehouse of the 80 Big Springs building, will have a retail sale for the next two weekends on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2 and on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8 and 9. Hundreds of handwoven Ghana baskets are stored in the warehouse and this is the public’s chance to choose one for a very special Christmas gift. Elegant sunhats and hand percussion instruments will also be offered in this first retail sale since the building opened. Discounts will make the inventory especially alluring. Owner Steve Karowe says this is a test sale to see how a retail shop would be received up here before they plan to open a shop in June.
(Originally published in the November 30, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)