Despite rain, Memorial Day weekend crowds brought much-needed business to Denver shops, hotels

denver downtown memorial day rain.jpg
Posted at 5:59 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 19:59:42-04

DENVER — Despite Memorial Day weekend practically being a washout this year, some businesses benefited from the bad weather.

"We saw some pretty big crowds down here," said Becca Schwisow, a sales associate at Topo Designs in Denver's Dairy Block.

People taking refuge from the stormy sky came into her store to check out the bags and clothes.

"I've definitely seen it pick up recently in the last month or two, at least in the last few weeks. Lots of people are ready to get out of the house and shop," Schwisow said.

At Second Love on West 41st Avenue and Tennyson Street, the crowds kept sales associate Nicole Linkowski busy on Friday, at least before the rain came down.

"We had so many people coming from out of town, which is my favorite part," she said. "Lots of people from Texas, Portland, New York, Connecticut. All over."

It almost felt like pre-pandemic times.

"I think people now especially are really, really trying to just be normal again," Linkowski said.

An example of that is the Sheraton Denver Downtown. Its general manager, Tony Dunn, says the hotel saw a 92% occupancy rate this past weekend. This time last year, his occupancy rate was just 10%.

"We see the light, and we're working towards it, but it is hopeful," he said. "Most of those restrictions are gone, so I think it's building the confidence back."

But the journey back to normal isn't over. Dunn's hotel still needs at least 250 additional employees this season. Currently, it has about 100. Pre-pandemic, it had about 550.

"We're struggling with trying to do everything we can to hire our associates back in the industry, whether it's incentives, whether it's just kind of trying to reinvent ourselves. You know, it's just that's our biggest struggle right now," Dunn said.

But if this weekend was any indication of what's to come, the future is bright for Denver's shops and hotels.