Shopkeeper says economy reason for Safe Treats’ closed doors

       “Economic reasons” - not a dislike of children or trick-or-treating - are why certain Old Colorado City stores chose not to participate in the Safe Treats event this Halloween, according to a gift shop proprietor.

Costumed characters wait in line for candy outside the Piramide shop during Safe Treats Oct. 31 in Old Colorado City. The event's increased size, along with a bad economy, may be leading some shops to close while it's on rather than spend $400 or so for candy to handle some 4,000 trick-or- treaters.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Shira Lewis, owner of Amazing World in the 2500 block of Colorado Avenue, offered that point in response to a statement in the Nov. 4 Westside Pioneer that a few retail shops closed during the event because they disliked the time and expense.
       Lewis said the annual candy giveaway has gotten so big in recent years that it costs $400 to satisfy the 4,000 or so trick-or-treaters. Such an expense is not easy to justify for independent merchants barely squeaking by in a tough economy, especially when there seems to be little or no return business, she pointed out.
       Lewis said she's talked to other shopkeepers - none of whom wanted to go on the record - who agree with her. They like the concept of Safe Treats and enjoy giving candy to Westside kids, but “not to the whole state,” as Lewis put it.
       In 2008, when Safe Treats grew especially large, “we ran out of candy in 45 minutes,” Lewis said. That's not good when the event typically lasts two hours or more. This year she just closed.
       Some businesses may get some sales during the event or return customers afterward as a result of Safe Treats, but such has not been true for Amazing World. Her sales over the past five Halloweens have totaled $5. And an effort one year to give coupons to candy-taking families flopped. None came back, Lewis said.
       Other points she raised were the rudeness of a few trick-or-treaters (throwing back a fellow shopkeeper's candy because they didn't think it was good enough), increasing numbers of adults wanting candy ('almost as many as the kids - that's where it gets stupid”), and traffic concerns (crowds so large that people get stuck in intersections during light changes).
       The event used to be put on by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, and Lori Kasten has served as its coordinator for 17 years. For the past two years, the OCCA has not been involved, but Kasten has kept the event alive, believing it is worthwhile as a fun, safe, family experience.
       At the same time, Kasten observed to the Westside Pioneer after this year's heavily attended Safe Treats that “Old Colorado City can't handle that many people.” She even stopped advertising the event this year, except in the Pioneer, which only covers the Westside.
       Asked how she might reduce the Safe Treats crowd, Lewis passed along two ideas: not having it on Halloween day and reducing the length from two hours to one. She also offered the point that the crowds the last three years have probably been bigger because Safe Treats was on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Next year's event will be on Monday, which could lower the numbers, she said.

Westside Pioneer article