COLORADO SPRINGS — The holiday season looked much different for many people because of the pandemic. There was a big effort to shop local and support small businesses, but did it make a difference?
Business owners in Old Colorado City say it did, because business was booming for the holiday season, and exceeded their expectations.
Mazie Baalman owns Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and says despite closing two of the four local locations last year during the pandemic, sales were surprisingly high during the holidays.
"It's been a scary year, we had to close two stores, and that was emotional and frightening for us," said Baalman. "(The sales) were pretty much on par for the four stores, and we did it in two. I would call that an accomplishment."
The chocolate factory temporarily closed for three weeks last year. Baalman says "there's been a lot of uncertainty, not just with the owners, but with the staff. They didn't know what tomorrow was going to bring. So to see all the support from the community, thank you."
The holiday season also carried some extra weight in 2020 for other businesses like Mackenzie & West, a boutique in Old Colorado City. It's another business in town, that the owners said did surprisingly well during the holidays.
"We had a really strong Christmas this season," said Glynis Hartwig, the shop's owner. "This whole year, we were cautiously optimistic about the holiday season, and we put a lot of effort into it."
This was the fourth holiday season the shop was open. Hartwig says their busiest time of year is in the summer when tourists are visiting, but during the holidays, businesses rely moreso on local shoppers.
"Holiday season came around and our customers really showed up for us," said Hartwig. "It was the local support that really pushed us through."
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for all businesses. However owners say it was successful, thanks to local efforts like Small Business Saturday, and getting the word out about supporting local.
"This year for some reason, it was really ramped up because of the efforts to figure out how to get the locals out to shop," said Hartwig.
"The support of the community was very gratifying, so I think that was the most important part," said Baalman. "It made a big difference, it really helped."
Business owners also told News5 it's also been busy start to the new year.
Customer appreciation day is also happening at the end of January. Business owners say it's their way of saying 'thank you' to the community.