Now that the holiday season is upon us, area business leaders are spreading the message that everything a family could need to celebrate is only a few miles from home.
Officials from the Lone Tree Chamber of Commerce, Park Meadows mall, Chamber of Commerce of Highlands Ranch and Aspen Grove mall are part of a like-minded group that launched the 2011 version of Head South for the Holidays, a campaign that encourages consumers to spend their holiday shopping dollars at local stores and attend holiday events in their own backyard.
Head South for the Holidays began last year as a way to remind shoppers that they don’t need to drive to Denver to enjoy the best that the holidays have to offer. Instead of driving by a lit-up Denver City and County Building or finding a place to park only to fight crowds on the 16th Street mall, local families can stop by the Wildlife Experience’s Winter Wonderlights, which runs Dec. 9-23 and features an all-outdoor trail of lights, snowy villas where children can visit with Santa Claus and live reindeer. The museum also offers an escape from the winter chill with its Extreme Screen Theater that every year introduces a new generation of viewers to the original animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Staying close to home enables revelers to avoid traffic and possible icy road conditions, and spending less on gas. It also helps boost the economy by helping local stores thrive.
Michelle Holbrook, president of the Lone Tree Chamber of Commerce, estimated that about 100 organizations and retailers are involved in the effort this year.
Although no data was collected to reflect the success of the campaign last year, shop owners and managers reported larger crowds and better sales than the previous holiday season. This year, closer attention is being paid to quantify the results of Head South for the Holidays, which reached residents as far north as Loveland and as far south as Colorado Springs in 2010, Holbrook said.
Aspen Grove in Littleton had shoppers redeeming coupons for a free gift after making a purchase last year, which helped them measure the effectiveness of the promotional campaign. The mall’s ultimate goal is to drive traffic and sales and increase its exposure, and that is made easier by the cooperative nature of Head South for the Holidays.
“These types of partnerships allow for cross-promotional and sponsorship opportunities,” said Kim Calder Cronin, marketing director for Aspen Grove. “We continually partner with businesses like hotels, dealerships, nonprofits, schools and churches.”
It was clear people had responded to the call to support local businesses and visit local events in 2010, and organizers are hoping for even better results this season. Industry indicators are pointing in a positive direction, Calder Cronin said.
All it takes is a little convincing that the south metro area offers high-caliber events and attractive retail outlets.
“Most families are about creating memories and traditions and a huge part for us is changing the perception of people that they don’t have to go downtown to have a good holiday experience,” Holbrook said.
Aspen Grove is one of many shopping centers that is preparing for the crowds by hanging holiday decorations and creating a festive atmosphere. The mall has a wide mix of tenants, including seasonal stores like A Dickens’ Store and Calendar Club that draw Christmas shoppers.
Head South for the Holidays targets residents of Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Littleton, Castle Pines North and Parker, but also those who live in Centennial and Jefferson County.
Park Meadows mall general manager Pam Schenk-Kelly was out of the office and not immediately available for comment.