Businesses in downtown Hailey felt the love this holiday season. A walk around town on Monday yielded stories of abundance and joy brought by residents and tourists willing to spend locally.
“Hailey isn’t just a place you land to go to Sun Valley anymore,” said Red Shoe owner Scott Mikolaycik, whose Main Street restaurant has been rocking three nights each week to live music. “It was really busy and I was happy to be a part of the holiday season. With The Mint open across the street, Café Della, Lago Azul and other businesses, there’s just more business in general at night in town these days.”
Mikolaycik said that when visitors drive through Hailey from the airport, they see more action in town than in recent years.
“And the Christmas lights on Main Street sure helped,” he said.
Ariel Caballero still had a full schedule of appointments ahead of him following a busy season at the Gem Barbershop on Bullion Street.
“The holidays are always crazy,” Caballero said. “In a small town, everyone is always on the same schedule.”
Caballero said he’s glad to be in a business that doesn’t necessarily drop off after the holidays.
“I think that’s because we’re a full-service salon,” he said. “We cater to everyone from ma and grandma to infants and fathers. We still have a waiting list of four weeks.”
Sturtevants outdoor sports store at the corner of Main and Carbonate streets was busier than last year.
“The holidays were great,” said sports technician Jay Nigra. “Pretty much across the board. Retail sales and rentals were good. There were plenty of people in town, and nice people.”
Nigra said classic cross-country skis continued to be an increasingly strong sales item, due in part to new designs that have revived older technologies. He said a longer-than-usual Christmas break for local students may have also contributed to increased commercial activity.
“They had 17 days off,” Nigra said, “and more time on their hands, and needed something to do.”
High Desert Sports hunting and fishing store owner Wayne Clayton said his store on River Street saw the usual uptick in business the week before Christmas.
“Mostly for stocking stuffers,” Clayton said. “But then there’s a week after Christmas that is also good. There are still some controlled elk hunts and landowner hunts going on. Duck hunting goes right through February. Then it will be slow until April.”
Clayton said his sales of archery gear, bullets, shotgun shells and firearms held steady in 2019.
“We’ve had a pretty good year,” he said.
As the hunting season expires, High Desert Sports’ virtual reality archery hunting range downstairs gets busy.
“Its pretty packed right now and will help us get through the winter,” Clayton said.
The crew at the Advocates Attic thrift store on Carbonate Street was busy Monday sorting through donated clothing to arrange on a sales floor crowded with furniture, sporting goods, household items and artwork.
“We get shoppers from all wage brackets,” said Advocates General Manager Gary Schott. “Our success is due in part to the high quality of donated items in this valley.”
The store is a fundraising arm of The Advocates’ safe house for victims of domestic abuse. Schott said the thrift store’s nine employees run an operation that provides 20 percent of funding for The Advocates’ nonprofit programs.
“That’s up from 2 percent 10 years ago,” Schott said. “We just started a three-year plan to get our full-time employees up to a livable wage, around 20 bucks an hour. Retail is rarely seen as a career, but we’re trying to get people to view this as a long-term prospect.”
With 90 percent of his business coming from locals, Schott said sales are up 8 percent over last year.
“The work we do here ensures that more and more women in the workforce are in healthy relationships,” he said.
Shorty’s Diner on Main Street had brisker breakfast and lunch sales than last December.
“We were up about 5 percent over the same period last year,” said co-owner Jeremy Greenberg.
Taste of Thai restaurant co-owner Jirapad Thapkaen said her Main Street restaurant has finally taken hold after a change of ownership three years ago.
“It was slow for a while, but this season was very busy—better than last year,” Thapkaen said.
Thapkaen said her December business came primarily from tourists, who generally eat the meat dishes, including her new panang lamb recipe.
“The locals eat more tofu,” she said.