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Downtown Alliance on Craft Fairs in Bond Park

Downtown Alliance on Craft Fairs in Bond Park

Downtown Alliance on Craft Fairs in Bond Park

Our Downtown Alliance met 9/28 to discuss some creative ways we can offer solutions that will make our Bond Park events a win/win for the whole community. First we want to acknowledge that many nonprofits create some fun events for the community and the proceeds go right back into scholarships and other services to our community. Autumn Gold is a recent example, bringing all day concerts to Bond Park last weekend that brought lots of downtown shoppers. Here are some of the key points we discussed:

  • The market-based events do impact sales downtown with 92 booths competing with 125 businesses, but the concerts draw huge crowds to town who do shop. Is there a way we can spread out the market-based events and add auxiliary events at Piccadilly, Baldwin Park, or Performance Park?
  • Could we spread these events out throughout the summer so they are not back to back in September?
  • Colorado Handmade was really friendly with us this year trying to find ways to increase the value of that weekend for our business community. They offered the Chamber a free booth if we wanted to have a presence to help direct shoppers to local businesses. Could the Town Events Staff ask each market to provide a Chamber booth if we can staff it?
  • Visit Estes Park created some brand standards in 2013. Maybe it's time to revisit some brand guidelines about who we are and what kind of business we attract.
  • Scot Fest brings so many people to town. If we collaborated with Scot Fest activities downtown, paint the town plaid, that could really bring more business. One West End business opened early on parade day and there were LOTS of shoppers who were disappointed that most businesses didn't open until 10. Maybe there are a few events that signify more collaboration.
  • Another way we can collaborate is to ask merchants in January if they want to participate in providing merchandise for sale to groups who bring hundreds to town, in addition to the 10% off coupon flyers we did this year. We'd like to be more intentional with a plan for summer 2022.
  • Some businesses appreciate the slower times in winter months but others would like to increase winter business with a holiday market or a winter festival like we see in many mountain towns. The Chamber is interested in knowing where your business stands on this - more winter business or a well deserved respite?
  • 1st Friday with the Arts District have been really successful this year. If more businesses were to participate, this will continue to grow.
  • The Elkhorn development will really transform business on the West End. We want to be proactive in asking for lighting to enhance shopping into the evening and attract visitors from those hotels to walk to town. We'd also like to request grant funding for web cams!
The most immediate action we are planning to take is get these merchants together with Visit Estes Park and Town Events to talk learn more about the Town's event strategy and talk about how we can contribute to a greater guest experience in Estes Park.

Thanks to the Estes Valley Library for hosting -- Claudine and Katherine. Thanks to the following members for making this a great conversation: Ron WiIcocks (Earthwood Collections and Earthwood Artisan), Helen Hahn (Alpenglow), Sara Rohwedder (Aspen & Evergreen), Natalie Patrick (Inspired Artisan Market), Kirby Hazelton (Rock Cut Brewing), Carissa Streib (Simply Christmas), Cory Workman (on behalf of the Sunrise Rotary), Morgan Bard (Highland Bard) and Rebecca and Dana from Visit Estes Park.

Here is a collection of responses from downtown merchants about the craft fairs in Bond Park.

"I'd love it if Bond Park could be used for events like music festivals or things that bring people downtown, but NOT buy things like crafts, jewelry, COFFEE TRUCKS, art/photography, and food because we have a vibrant community trying hard to do this year round for our community. The other thing that sucks is when the Rotary Club supports this program & THEN comes into my business wanting donations for their events......  So, you're going to have an event that competes with my business AND ask me to support it financially????" Inkwell & Brew/Macdonald Book Shop

"All festivals in Bond part significantly add to businesses in downtown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep them coming.  The more the better.  More people having fun, more tax revenue, more money for the non-profits that sponsor them, more people eating in restaurants and more people shopping in general. An alternate location is not smart.  The memorial day art show at the fairgrounds event center was a total bust!  Making decisions to wreck downtown events would not be smart, they bring thousands of people to our Downtown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Please read the Downtown Master Plan.  It clearly states that we should have more art related activities in our downtown.  Arts play a major role in supporting and making our downtown fun and unique. Also, just look at tax revenues.  They clearly show that downtown festivals add to tax collections for the Town and give people in lodging establishments and day visitors something fun to do in Estes Park.  Also, look at overall tax revenues for this year.  The Town is breaking records in 2021!  Please be careful not to try to fix what is NOT broken.  Downtown festivals are great for Estes Park Business." Earthwood Collections, Earthwood Artisans

"At downtown Subway, our sales fall those weekends. Hard to prove what they really would have been without, but that's the feeling we get. I'd guess 5-10% decline. Our bathrooms get a ton of use. Ha.
Any out of town food vendor sets up shop will hurt sales of local restaurants. They pay no property or local taxes, they don't leave revenue in community in wages, they don't pay the sewer/water/fire burden we do. They don't drive tourists to come to town. They just grab a few dollars that might be spent at local shops.  A little food adds excitement but it really acts as competition to local struggling restaurants." Subway/IntaJuice

"The festivals, although they may impact some, maybe even me, attract people to the town. There is a large influx of new people to this region, and this is all new to them. Bringing them here is the best way to get them back here later." 30 Below Leather

"30% down from no show last year." Cabin Fever

"As a business owner close to the park, I don’t feel that the fairs affect me adversely.  No one stays at the Bond Park sales all day; they do make their way up the street.  However, when my store was located farther from the park, it did seem like I had less business during fair weekends. My biggest concerns with the Bond Park sales are:
  • Are the vendors collecting sales tax and paying it to our town?
  • Are the vendors vetted?  Last week’s Made  in Colorado event featured products from several different states.
  • The Labor Day sale had lamps that I know are manufactured as my neighbor carries them.
  • And my biggest concern is the fact that the vendors use valuable parking spaces!
Several years ago, I believe that the Town tried to have these special events at our Stanley Event Center.  Vendors were disappointed with sales and now they are in Bond Park again. I realize that most of these events are fundraisers for non-profits, so I feel a little guilt for wishing they would go away.  However, if I had my way, Bond Park would only be used for free events that draw the public…entertainment and exhibitions, educational displays, picnics, rest and relaxation. Thank you for requesting input." Colorado Homestead

"Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Downtown events in Estes Park.  We are extraordinarily grateful that the town of Estes Park hosts a diversity of fun, exciting, and free downtown events each year.  As business owners, our greatest pleasure is to know that people who come from all over the world have the best experience possible while here.  The festivals and events on the weekends add such a special flavor to town and give visitors unique experiences in Estes Park.  Where else can you eat kettle corn, stroll by beautiful art, and have a 700 lb. elk grazing on the grass next to you?  It is truly extraordinary! Our position on the festivals in town is one of gratitude.  We are grateful that more people are milling about in our beautiful downtown.  We are grateful very small businesses who make a living out of a tent have the opportunity to get exposure, share their talents, and make sales.  We are grateful to offer visitors experiences they don’t get at home.  We believe it is a win-win for everyone. 

When considering this discussion on impact, it is important to look at the facts.  For those claiming their sales go down every weekend because competing vendors are selling the same merchandise, let’s take a closer look at how many weekends are actually impacted.  From quickly perusing, I believe there are five “craft fairs” that are literally selling merchandise similar to vendors in town. I think there is the Art Market Memorial Day Weekend, a Made-in-Colorado market in June as well as the end of August, then the Arts and Craft Fair over Labor Day, and the Fine Arts and Craft in late September.  With 52 weekends in a year, and five of them having “for sale markets”, this means 9.6% of the weekends per year offer any “competing” sales.  The same could be said for those selling alcohol.  I believe there is about the same number of alcohol-themed events in Bond Park, but I could be wrong.  This is a very small percentage of potential “competition” on the weekends. 

Historically, weekends in the Fall have been significantly better than weekends in the summer for us.  We went back and looked at our numbers over the past five years, excluding 2020 since it was such an abnormal year.  For us, in the month of June, the busiest day of the week is Friday.  In the month of July, the busiest day of the week is Monday.  In the month of August, the busiest day of the week is Monday.  In September, the busiest day of the week is Saturday.  In October, the busiest day of the week is Saturday. In the summer months, the amount of business we do each day is comparable.  Mondays are the strongest, but by only 10% or less.  However, in the Fall months, Saturdays are by far busier than the average weekday.  Saturdays are 30-40% busier than Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.  Mondays and Fridays are stronger than Tuesdays through Thursdays for us in the Fall.

We then looked at the numbers specifically comparing each weekend from Labor Day Weekend to Pumpkin and Pilsners.  The strength of the weekends for us are as follows:
1.  Autumn Gold 
2.  Labor Day (retail “competition”)
3.  Fine Arts and Craft Festival (retail “competition”)
4.  Elk Fest
5.  Pumpkins and Pilsners
6.  Scottish Festival (Nothing in Bond Park)

Hopefully, this is the type of data you are seeking.." Brownfields

"Thank you and the Chamber for raising this question. We have long struggled over the pros and cons of events selling goods, food and beverages at downtown venues. In recent past there have been numerous constructive discussions set up by the Town of Estes Park events department where they invited the business, non-profit and marketing organizations, as well as, downtown business owners to share viewpoints with one another in an effort to advance the common interests of all. Personally, I am hesitant in using a pandemic year to compare revenues and the value or impact of events being held in the downtown area. Also, using only the event dates seem to be too narrow to take in the overall impact. If only using revenues to business is the specific question for the purpose of this discussion, I submit the following information regarding the time period of 9/1-9/8 for 2017-2021 with the percentage derived from being compared to 2021.

2017 - .97%
2018 + 1.05%
2019 + 1.10%
2020 + 1.06%

These percentages show that while 2020 revenue was higher when there was no event, years 2018 and 2019, when there was a Bond Park event on Labor Day weekend, reported similar higher revenues than 2021 when the event returned.  For my individual businesses it is difficult to conclude the event is having a negative  impact on revenues.  I understand that may be different for others and the conversation is relevant for discussion. I am more concerned that the global pandemic continues to influence who is traveling  to destinations which is more indicative of how dollars are being spent on any given day/weekend/month/year.  This is based on having done similar comparisons when facing the economic downturn of 2008-2010, the fires and floods of 2012-2013 and it’s recovery years, and now the fire/evacuation and pandemic closures and recovery of 2020-2021.  

Finally, related to this event, the money raised by our local nonprofit Rotary club during this Labor Day weekend event provides benefits to the entire community.  In the past, the Rotary would come door to door to business asking for donations to support their efforts.  In this model, the visitor/customer also support our nonprofits which benefits businesses.  The Spruce House, Inc. participates as a 1% give back business partner to nonprofits and supports the use of events for nonprofits fundraising. It is understood there may be a revenue variance on specific days when events occur. 

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the discussion." The Spruce House, The Christmas Shoppe, The White Orchid

"I think all of the downtown events help our business. I imagine they bring some people to town specifically for the event, but they also provide something for people to do who are just here on vacation. They give the town a festive, fun atmosphere that I think visitors enjoy and it encourages them to come back. More people always equals more visibility and more sales. It's impossible to use numbers to quantify the effects, every year is so different. Fires, COVID, floods, smoke, the economy, election cycles all affect whether people come here and how much they are willing to spend.  As the front range population grows, more and more people are coming to Estes for a easy get- away, if we can give them something different to do each visit, it will help encourage them to come back.  They will find favorite places to shop and always be looking for new things they missed last time. Overall, if any given festival effects our sales on that weekend, it is more than made up for by the overall increase in business we have.
I think it's important to look at the big picture, not just sales on any given weekend at specific types of stores. 

Sure wish I could attend meetings, but I'm busy making up for being short several employees. It would be nice if we as a town and a business community could focus on important things like affordable housing, child care and recruiting seasonal employees so we might have some chance of getting and retaining employees. Maybe then we could all be open every day for our full number of hours and make money that way, instead of worrying about a few dollars lost because of a festival. Also, if we had more help, maybe we wouldn't be so stressed out that we go off on literally everything 😁 Thanks for trying so hard to help us!" Snow Peaks Winery

"Honestly, I’m not sure if down town fairs have any impark on our business." The Egg of Estes

"Why have the craft fair on Labor Day weekend, when we really don’t need the extra crowds? Have it the weekend before when we could use some extra visitors?" The Ore Cart Rock Shop

"My numbers show us about 52% down over 2020 when there was no art fair on Labor Day, and about 48% down in 2019 over 2020.  2018 is around that as well.  Of course all the art in the park events directly affect us as they are in direct competition.  People have told me its good for business as it brings in art buyers, but our numbers always speak to the opposite.  Thanks for asking.  Sincerely!  Ole always says, "They should try putting 20 food trucks in the park and see what the restaurants think." Aspen & Evergreen

"We see an increase in sales of approximately 50% for Saturdays when there is a fair in Bond Park vs. the Event Center. It really makes a difference." Peppers Fresh & Fast Mexican Grill

"Thanks for this well crafted email inquiry.  I appreciate data-driven decisions.  We looked through the library's integrated system and concluded that compared to weekends without events:
door counts drop ~25% during Bond Park weekend events however, circulation (which I would equate to sales) evens out to 0% - no change overall.  Saturdays (biggest festival days) circulation drops 13%, but on Sundays (when we're open 1-5p) we see an uptick of 17%!  That tells me that library users waited for the festival to end and then came in when the coast was clear :). It is my observation that residents avoid downtown due to the high volume of people/tourists, traffic congestion and reduced parking options during Bond Park festivals. We have heard this anecdotally from our users/locals, and our numbers certainly support that assessment. Thanks for checking in with the downtown neighborhood!" Estes Valley Library


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