Pro Challenge a boon for the city

Some say not so good for business, however

Rob carrigan
Crowds, estimated from 8,500 to 10,000, filled Woodland Park streets last week and local, national and even international attention may elevate its market standing.
Pat Hill
Posted

The general feeling among several Woodland Park business owners is that the USA Pro Challenge Aug. 22 was a good news/bad news thing. “We had a better day after the race was over,” said Todd Grube, manager of Mountain Wookies on Midland Avenue.

While one-day sales were down by 90 percent at Williams Log Cabin Furniture, Jerry and Vickie Good contributed their time to the event. Vickie Good, for instance, showed up at 6 a.m. to help set up the staging area.

However, the Goods’ civic spirit only went so far. “The glamour started to wear off around 2 p.m.,” Jerry Good said. By that time the race through town was over but the only entrance to the furniture store, on Fairview Street remained closed until 4 p.m. “It completely stifled our business,” he said.

For the Goods, the race was only one day. “On the whole, it’s a good event but there was no good reason to close Fairview until 4 p.m.,” he said.

Merry Jo Larsen at The Cowhand has a somewhat dim view of the race.. “We were down about 25 percent in sales,” she said. “Most of our customers said they were going to avoid Woodland Park at all costs that day.”

However, Larsen does give a nod to the committee that organized the event. “I know how much work these events are but for the most part I don’t think it was a feather in our cap,” she said. “It wasn’t a shopping crowd; as soon as the cyclists went by the people went back to the staging area.”

On the other hand, Larsen said, people did buy clothes off the racks outside the store.

If asked for her opinion on hosting the race again, Larsen would vote no. “We need events that last two or three days, like the rodeos we used to have,” she said.

At Pikes Peak Polaris, sales were off but race-watchers did stop in. “Our regular customers couldn’t get here,” said the manager, Anne Dorais. “Do I think the race was a big hype for nothing? Yes.”

Dorais laments the amount of time that went into the planning. “I think people thought it would be more exciting, but it wasn’t,” she said.

Like the others, Lon Rust at Paradise Liquors in the Safeway plaza, had mixed feelings about the cycling race. “It hurt us bad,” he said. “We lost at least $2,000 that day.”

However, there was an upside. “Sales were a little higher the day before,” he said. “A lot of the locals hunkered down the day of the race.”

Kassandra Bowen, who owns Kitchen and Homebrew, offers a twist on the non-scientific survey. Because the store was still in the original location in the Safeway plaza the day of the race, Bowen’s sales were off. “We saw a decrease in sale, which makes perfect sense,” she said.

However, at the top of Bowen’s wish list was moving the store sooner to the prime spot downtown, right smack in the middle of where the crowds were during the race.

“That’s one of the reasons we moved here,” she said. “We’re seeing a definite increase in business.”