SHERIDAN — The weather outside may have been frightful, but that did not stop customers from heading to local businesses in droves beginning on Black Friday.
With snow on the ground and temperatures plunging into the single digits Friday evening, Christmas Stroll representatives and small business owners were concerned the annual event — which pairs with Black Friday to create the busiest shopping day of the year — might not generate the sales it had in year’s past. These worries proved unfounded.
“We had an awesome day,” Foot of the Bighorns Manager Cheryl Sinclair said. “We appreciate the local support, people shopping locally. And actually, our day was better than the last two or three years.”
Sinclair is not sure what led to the increase, but speculated that maybe the cold actually drew people into downtown shops rather than the crowds exclusively partaking in the festivities on the street.
Jessica Garrelts, co-owner of Cottonwood Kitchen Shop, said her business enjoyed one of its “busiest strolls ever.” The following day, dubbed nationally as “Small Business Saturday,” the shop posted great figures, as well.
“I feel like overall Sheridan is doing a great job pushing shopping local,” Garrelts said. “I think our customers are recognizing that. A lot of times our customers say they’re checking in with us first before going elsewhere.”
This is the goal for the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director Dixie Johnson. Johnson said the organization pushes shopping locally all year long, and the annual stroll is just one part of that.
This year’s Christmas Stroll once again brought people downtown to enjoy the holiday season and support local businesses. Now in its 20th year, the event kept traditions alive — Santa Claus, buttons and mini trains — while mixing in some new features, like a small parade and the location of the fireworks.
The entire day, Garrelts said, brings the community together in a way that is about more than just shopping and sales figures. It’s “about the people,” seeing old friends and spending time with one another, she added.
“The stroll is really a good event,” Sinclair concluded. “It’s nice to have the people come downtown, shop locally and see their neighbors and friends.”