Downtown sees weekend business boost

Riders start cycling at the Clunker Crit race during the GJ Off-Road event. When the numbers shake out, the city will determine if it will again help host the bike race next year.

By Tuesday, some of the energy from a weekend packed with events in the Grand Valley had subsided.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists mingled with locals over the Labor Day weekend as simultaneous events, the GJ Off-Road mountain bike race and Hilltop’s Classic Car show, dominated separate areas of the city.

With the bike race’s finish line nearly out the front door at the corner of Third and Main streets, sales at Pollux Clothing Company, 321 Main St., on Sunday were some of the store’s best.

“Sunday was the busiest day we’ve had for four months,” store manager Brian Badini said. “On Friday I thought, man, this is going to be a bust. Saturday and Sunday was like the floodgates opened.”

Pollux is one store along Main Street that usually opens on Sundays, a day when some merchants remain closed.

Planning two major events over the normally quiet Labor Day weekend was a strategic move to draw in business and tourist dollars, said Mistalynn Meyeraan, marketing and public relations coordinator for Grand Junction’s Visitor & Convention Bureau.

The agency marketed the events in Denver and promoted Grand Junction as a Labor Day weekend tourist destination.

However, Meyeraan said it’s too early to say how much of an economic impact the events had on Grand Junction.

An estimated 4,000 people attended the car show and up to 600 riders, many with family and friends in tow, registered to ride the mountain bike race.

Just the draw from tourists should have boosted hotel stays, but those numbers won’t be known for about a month and will be compared to last August’s lodging numbers.

When the numbers shake out, the city will determine if it will again help host the bike race next year, Meyeraan said.

A packed downtown didn’t necessarily translate to extra sales for all downtown businesses.

Store Manager Jeff McKenna of Summit Canyon Mountaineering, 461 Main St., said weekend sales were about normal, though the store offered discounts on hydration packs and water bottles. The store specializes in outdoor gear, but not biking equipment specifically, which could have been part of the on-par weekend sales, McKenna said.

The store is always open Sundays; in general, weekend sales have been strong lately, he said.

“We did specials. We had coupons out there. We didn’t know what to expect,” McKenna said. “We had more of a return from a trail race (the previous weekend) at Mary’s Loop.”

At next door’s Culinary Corner, 455 Main St., sales mirrored a normal weekend, despite the hundreds of more people milling around downtown.

“Did it make us rich overnight? Heck, no,” Owner Beth Zanski said.

Yet, she said, any new people are a welcome sight, especially on Sundays when locals have come to believe that most downtown stores are closed. Culinary Corner is open Sundays.

Like the weekly Thursday night farmers markets, hordes of people do not necessarily mean big boosts in sales.

“I don’t know if (special events are) the thing to save downtown, but it still gets people down here,” she said. “It’s worth it if it gets new faces in here on a Sunday.”

Plenty of riders stopped by to purchase food items and drink supplements for the race on Friday and Saturday at Ruby Canyon Cycles, 301 Main St., employee Joshua Ray said.

“It was busier in here than it would have been any other Sunday,” he said.

More importantly, the challenging race course in the Lunch Loops and Tabeguache sections on Bureau of Land Management land thrilled riders who said they would return, Ray said.

“I hope it shows the city that’s what it needs to be pushing—more of a mountain bike mecca,” he said. “I’m glad that they’re starting to publicize Grand Junction, instead of just Fruita.”


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