With Labor Day weekend in the rearview mirror and snow warning whispers echoing throughout Leadville, business owners along Harrison Avenue are chilling out after what many have called the busiest summer in the world. ‘they have never known.
But while Labor Day typically marks a transition point where the sidewalks calm down and locals again emerge to eat and drink downtown, business owners said foot traffic persisted on a regular basis and that dead seasons during fall and mud seasons might no longer be the norm.
According to records maintained by the Leadville Lake County Economic Development Corporation (LLCEDC), Leadville saw a significant increase in sales tax revenue this summer. In June, the Leadville businesses raised $ 212,581, an increase of over $ 78,000 from June 2020. July figures also show an increase of over $ 57,000. In addition, sales tax revenue increased by nearly $ 20,000 in February and over $ 53,000 in April, underlining an extension of the busy season for Leadville.
Sales tax figures for August are not yet available, although LLCEDC executive director Marla Akridge said her department expects August figures to be “off the charts.”
As the guardian of Harrison Avenue in many ways, the Leadville Visitor Center also welcomed a large number of visitors throughout the summer. During the months of June, July and August, the reception center welcomed on average more than 100 people per day. On some weekends, that figure has doubled to more than 200 a day, according to data kept by the center. July was the center’s busiest month with 4,743 visitors, the vast majority (3,417) from out-of-state.
“It’s been the busiest summer I’ve experienced since I started here,” said Pam Stovey, who has worked at City on a Hill Coffee & Espresso for the past seven years. “There are no longer any slow days. Every day it’s crowded, and some days there’s a line up outside the door and a few yards from the block.
Owners of restaurants along Harrison Avenue shared a similar sentiment, with businesses like Tennessee Pass Cafe and Silver Llama Market & Eatery reporting high levels of staff stress and employee turnover rates which contributed to a summer season overall. hard.
“We couldn’t find anyone to work,” said Bobbi Conner of Tennessee Pass Cafe, who added that service became particularly difficult during the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, when unprecedented crowds flocked to the small hall. dining from the restaurant. A bartender at the Tennessee Pass Cafe, who has worked in the Leadville service industry for 28 years, said she has never seen crowds like she has seen this summer.
Additionally, Conner said national supply shortages have left the Tennessee Pass Cafe without enough food to feed guests each day and food prices have skyrocketed. “All this summer I’m going to be ordering around seven cartons of Brussels sprouts and only one will arrive a week later,” Conner said. “And they’re like twice as expensive.”
At Silver Llama Market & Eatery, owner Sherry Randall, who lost eight staff this summer, said some employees have requested to work in the back kitchen to avoid the stress of waiting tables. Increasingly long wait times for food have also sparked controversy between customers and staff.
“Our people have really stepped up,” Randall said. “This summer has been exceptionally difficult and it seemed like customers were more angry than in the past. We are just humans doing what we can. You go through each day, but you come home not feeling so good.
Hobby and commerce business owners have also had a busy summer. Leadvelo Bicicasa owner Rafael Milan-Garcia said interest in the bike has remained steadily manic since last year, but visitors from across the state and beyond have turned up looking for it. ‘bikepacking equipment. “Last year everyone wanted a bike, and it still is,” said Milan-Garcia. “But this year they’re looking for accessories. People come in saying, “Hey, I heard about that bikepacking store in Leadville. “
Store owners like Becky Edwards of Two Dog Travel and Ann Stanek of Harperrose Studios attribute this year’s late summer traffic to the closure of I-70 near Glenwood Springs in July, which diverted traffic from the highway via Leadville. For Edwards, this summer’s success has led to an expansion of Two Dog Travel’s offerings, including more new and used books, an increased stock of Mountainsmith products, and a growing antiques section that has been popular.
“People stop and walk around,” Stanek said, “and I think they’re shocked at how much downtown Leadville has to offer. For a very long time there was this concern along Harrison that business owners weren’t going to get through the winter. I think they weren’t. We’re going to keep getting busier and busier, for better or for worse, I guess. “