Park City Businesses Say Sundance Foot Traffic Down

Jan 25, 2020, 8:48 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm

PARK CITY, Utah – When three sisters were looking for a way to spend their Saturday, they got some parental permission and hopped on a bus, heading downtown in a search for celebrities.

“If you see a mob of people screaming, just follow them,” said Ivy Malman, sharing her secrets for success.

She and her accomplices will settle for nothing less than absolute victory. Her sister Sidney Hatcher was keeping a sharp eye out for Taylor Swift while her other sister Ruby Hatcher was on a quest to track down Will Smith or Oprah.

Ivy Malman, Ruby Hatcher and Sidney Hatcher walk down Main Street, keeping a lookout for any famous faces.

As for Ivy, she had a hard time even keeping track of who she wants to find.

“We watched ‘Aladdin’ last night, and I really liked Will Ferrell as the genie,” she said. “That was pretty cool.”

“Will Smith was in it, not Will Ferrell,” Ruby said, correcting her sister with a laugh.

But while the public may be on the chase for a coveted selfie, businesses were craving customers. Inside Java Cow, a coffee and ice cream shop on Main Street, the cups weren’t churning quite as quickly as last year.

Rebecca Williams, manager of Java Cow, said she’s seen a decrease in business this year.

“This is normal, but it’s normally like this all day long,” said manager Rebecca Williams, who’s been running the place for the past five years. “We’re busy, but not as busy it should be.”

Down the street at Dolly’s Books, the sweets weren’t selling like they used to.

“A lot slower than last year,” said Luke Fairman, the General Manager of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which is attached to the bookstore. “Last year was probably double what we’ll do today. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s definitely slower. A lot less people.”

Luke Fairman, General Manager of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, gestures out the window to what he describes as a “ghost town” compared to past years.

To the untrained eye, the sidewalks may have looked like a swarm — but Fairman and Williams agreed that something was different.

“Right now I’d say it’s like a ghost town compared to how it usually is,” Fairman said, gesturing out the front window of his shop. “Usually, it’d be packed.”

While tracking the exact attendance numbers at the Sundance Film Festival can be a challenge, Salt Lake City-based Y2 Analytics uses data provided by another company that anonymously tracks the number of cell phones that move through the area. They estimated a slight dip in attendance last year, following huge gains in previous years — their report showed around 122,000 people attended some part of the festival in 2019, down from about 125,000 in 2018.

Although the experiences of a couple of businesses on Main Street aren’t exactly scientific, Fairman and Williams both think locals may be scared off by the traffic situation, which they said can be more than a little daunting.

Despite lower foot traffic, Williams and Fairman agreed the amount of vehicular traffic continues to be high.

“They’re charging crazy, crazy amounts for China Bridge,” Williams said, referring to a nearby parking garage. “Parking is a little more limited than it used to be.”

“Yesterday, there was like an hour and a half wait to get into Swede Alley,” Fairman said. “So I think some people are just giving up. Most people park at the high school and then just bus over, which is usually pretty quick, but last night it took me almost two hours to pick up some stuff from here.”

Williams also believed what’s traditionally been the main attraction of Sundance — the films — may be undergoing a bit of a shift.

“You hear everybody talking about how they can see some of these films the next month on HBO or on Netflix,” she said. “So it’s not as much of an adventure as it used to be.”

“Netflix, Hulu, see them all in a couple of months anyway,” Fairman said. “It’s gotten a lot more expensive, too.”

You might believe lower foot traffic might make businesses bitter, but shop owners said, on the whole, Park City is booming.

“We have so many events during the summer up here,” Williams said. “Every single weekend, there’s something going on.”

“Every year just gets blown out of the water,” Fairman said. “You think you can’t go any bigger, and then it just crushes it. During Christmas, we’ve never seen anything like it.”

This Saturday may have been a bit slower, but according to Fairman and Williams, businesses don’t completely rely on Sundance to keep their doors open. They’re both happy with the number of customers they see and said business is consistent. Change is something they expect one way or another — and Fairman said Sundance itself is no exception.

Local businesses said the amount of foot traffic from Sundance seems a little slower than normal this year.

“Before it was mostly about the films, now it’s more about people trying to see people,” he said with a smile.

As long as celebrities walk among us, some people like Ivy Malman and her sisters will always be on the hunt, regardless of who played the part of “The Genie.”

“We do this every year,” she said, before clarifying that it was, in fact, Will Smith she’s on the lookout for.

She plans to keep searching, trying to prove that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The family of 45-year-old Ian Anzer is questioning the events that transpired before police broke i...

Mary Culbertson and Garna Mejia, KSL TV

Family of Sandy man shot by Police question the events before his death

A 45-year-old Ian Anzer was shot and killed by Police at a senior community on Friday. His family is questioning the events that took place before the shots were fired.

47 minutes ago

Recently elected Rep. Celeste Maloy joins Boyd Matheson on KSL's Sunday Edition after she was recen...


Sunday Edition: Celeste Maloy

This week, Boyd Matheson is joined by newly elected Rep. Celeste Maloy from Washington D.C. After being sworn into her new role, she reflects back on the election, and gives a glimpse of her first days in D.C.

5 hours ago

FILE — An Ogden man was named as a suspect in the fatal shooting of a Cortez, Colorado police off...

Mark Jones

Ogden man named as suspect in fatal shooting of Colorado police officer, suspect also killed

Police in Colorado have an identified an Ogden man as a suspect involved in the shooting death of a Cortez police officer.

21 hours ago

A long-time and well-known firefighter in Utah, Fitzgerald Petersen, has died after a battle with c...

Pat Reavy

Beloved Utah firefighter dies after battle with cancer

A long-time Utah firefighter, beloved by many across the state, passed away Friday after battling cancer.

21 hours ago

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Saturday he believes Republicans have the votes to launch a formal...

Andrew Millman and Alexandra Ross, CNN

Speaker Johnson says he believes GOP has the votes for Biden impeachment inquiry

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Saturday he believes Republicans have the votes to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

21 hours ago

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

Child at the center of a Amber Alert in Idaho found dead

The 10-month-old boy at the center of an Amber Alert issued Friday by Idaho authorities has been found dead.

23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Park City Businesses Say Sundance Foot Traffic Down