Moab announced the beginning of the holiday season with the annual tree lighting, craft fairs and Electric Light Parade last weekend. As holiday shopping begins, Moab business owners hope locals do their shopping in town.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which marks the beginning of holiday shopping season, indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black”.
In Moab that business theory is opposite, said Walker Drug manager Vivian Klocko.
“We’re in the black in the spring and summer. It is after Thanksgiving when the tourists leave that we go in the red,” she said.
Moab city sales tax shows a big a drop during the winter months. From November to February sales tax numbers may be a third to half of what sales tax numbers are for the tourist season from March to October.
Andy Nettell, owner of Back of Beyond Books on Main St. and ABC Books in the Eddie McStiff Plaza, is passionate about shopping locally during the holidays.
“It saves time, it saves energy, it saves headaches,” he said. “I used to say if you can’t find it here, you don’t need it.”
He rejected the idea that shoppers can get items cheaper out of town or online.
“We will match any price,” he said.
He also said that supporting local businesses benefits the whole community.
“Citizens should be buying what they can locally to support that tax base,” Nettell said. “It pays for roads, a police force. It even pays for our rec center.”
It also keeps people employed.
“I can hire and maintain full-time staff through the winter,” he said. “I maintain two storefronts through winter just for locals.”
Tony Lema, Jr. of Kokopelli Gallery said that he personally tries to do as much shopping in town as he can.
“You can buy a lot locally, and at comparable prices,” he said. “We probably buy 70 percent local.”
He has one simple reason: “It keeps money in the community.”
Fifty-two percent of all revenues from locally-owned, independent businesses went back into their communities compared to about 14 percent for national chain stores, according to research conducted by Civic Economics.
“Every study we’ve conducted around the country has shown that shopping locally can keep at least three times more revenue in the local economy,” said Daniel Houston, a partner at Civic Economics.
Kaye Davis, co-owner of the Moab BARKery on Main St., said “spending money in Grand Junction just puts money in their economy, which we do enough of throughout the year.”
“I think it is important to support our neighbors,” she said. “I support my neighbors and in return they support me.”
Moab BARKery features supplies and toys for dogs and cats and other small animals. She advised that pets shouldn’t be given as gifts during the holidays, due to the added stress of the season.
“Consider what you’re going to have to deal with around Christmas that doesn’t allow you to pay full attention to what you just brought into your life,” Davis said. “Consider the lifetime costs of that animal. That is why so many animals wind up in shelters after Christmas.”
She advised that one should consider quality over quantity when buying holiday treats for pets.
“If you can buy American, do it,” Davis said. “It keeps money in our economy, both locally and nationally.”
Faye Hutchins, owner of Spa Moab on Main St., features local artisans in her establishment.
“A lot of our retail has a local focus and is eco-friendly,” Hutchins said. “We have jewelry made by Yrma van der Steenstraeten in Castle Valley. We also carry Sister Root Medicinals that is made by a woman made in Castle Valley and pinyon salve made by a woman who lives south of town outside of Moab.”
She also said that they are able to do custom gift certificates or packages, including sampler packages with mini-massage, mini-foot treatment and mini-facial.
“That has been really popular for people you don’t know exactly what to get them,” Hutchins said. “You can’t go wrong with that one.”
Rave ‘N Image stays open all year for the convenience of local customers, said manager Christina Behling.
“If you need a dress for a Frankie D’s party, it’s a lot easier to come shop with us than drive all the way to Grand Junction and spend a bunch of money on gas,” Behling said.
The store in the Eddie McStiff’s Plaza offers local discounts throughout the year, such as the good grades program where students can get 30 percent off for an A-average and 20 percent off for a B-average. In the winter they have a 50 percent off rack and a $10 rack she said that local appreciate.
“We work hard to offer fair prices on all our merchandise, so people can feel great about shopping local,” Behling said. “We also donate 25 cents to a local non-profit organization every time someone declines a plastic bag for their items at checkout.”
Steve Kennedy of Gearheads on Main St said shopping locally for the holidays is “good for Moab and keeps dollars here in town when there isn’t a lot of dollars in town.”
The off-season is also a good time to find deals that aren’t as available during the tourist season.
“There is plenty of opportunity to save on things,” Kennedy said.
As the year ends, retailers need to clear inventory in order to avoid paying additional taxes.
“Having a lot of inventory when the first of the year rolls around doesn’t help your tax liability,” Kennedy said. “Plus, you’ve done orders for the following season, so you want your shelves to be lean before the new inventory comes in.”
Tracy Reed, owner of Chile Pepper Bike Shop, said that they give a 10 percent discount to locals on merchandise throughout the entire year.
“During the winter months we blow out inventory to make room for order that will arrive for next spring, so it is a great time of year to get a great deal on select items,” Reed said.
She said competing with online retailers may be tough, because they do deep discounts.
“At times their discounts are below wholesale price,” she said. “I have to be able to strike a balance between offering discounts to the customer while also making sure that the needs of my employees are being met.”
Nettell said one of the most important reasons to shop locally is that as the local community supports local businesses, local businesses also support the community.
“I challenge anyone to call Amazon and ask them for a donation for the local high school,” Nettell said. “It’s not going to happen. Local businesses put on events, sponsor programs and give donations.”
This year his store is doing the Books for Tots program.
He and his staff went to the different schools and asked staff and librarians what they need for their students.
“We purchased those books and made it available to the public to buy and give those books to the schools,” Nettell said.
He now has 300 different titles on his shelves available for patrons to donate to the schools during the holiday season.