Christmas in the Rockies, A Welcome Opportunity to Shop Without Your Computer

Hear a Voice, Sense a Smile, Walk Away with a Handmade gift or Curated item.


Image via Donna DeBacco

Christmas in the Rockies Gift Mart in the Aspen Grove Shopping Center, 7301 S Sante Fe Dr., Littleton Colo., December 4, 2020.

Donna DeBacco and

You are at your computer scouring through the unlimited number of items for sale on Amazon’s website. You read the reviews, make your final decision, add it to your virtual cart, click the checkout button, and complete your purchase. In and out, no waiting in line, your package is on its way. Other than the possible shopper’s high from the rush of dopamine, it is a benign experience. However, the convenience, ease, and safety of shopping online are hard to argue with, especially during this unprecedented time of COVID-19. According to CNBC, shopping online is what millions of people are choosing to do in 2020.

What is missing in that quick and dirty exchange? The answer is people. Shopping online means no eye contact, no chance to hear the words, “Hello,” “How can I help you?”, and “Thank you very much.” No face-to-face interaction occurs. While the computer allows a safe and convenient way to make purchases, what is happening to the people that rely on the public to make in-person purchases? Local people that pay taxes pay rent and are trying to put food on their table. Few people know the answer to that question better than the farmers and vendors that rely on the farmers’ markets and special events to sell their products.

Every year Colorado’s farmers and local business owners like Diné Creations, a handmade custom jewelry company, Sweet Almande, an almond roasting company, and Styria Bakery II, a family-owned baking company, mark their calendars for events and shows they plan to attend. These events allow them to display the products they make or curate throughout the year, and most of these folks, rely on the sales they make at those events to survive. However, due to COVID-19, all 2020 winter and 2021 spring events have been canceled. That move left these and many other small business owners and farmers with zero opportunity to sell their goods in person and with no foreseeable income.

Richard Freeman, owner of New Era Distributing, and Steve Decsesznak, owner of High Country products, worked together to help solve the crisis they and the other vendors were facing. They partnered with Denver Metro Farmer’s Market and secured a place in The Aspen Grove Shopping Center for the vendors to sell their products. Freeman and Decsesznak’s goal was to help local businesses to continue to offer goods and maintain meaningful relationships with residents. They opened a gift mart called Christmas in the Rockies, allowing vendors to feature and sell their products. Richard Freeman said, “They are thrilled to have all this space.” Freeman said the most challenging aspect of putting this plan together was the 100 – 200 hours he and Decsesznak invested in setting up the market. They had to secure insurance, get signs, work with Tri-County Health and the State of Colorado to be sure they were COVID compliant. “All we want to do is stay open, bring in our customers and stay local,” says Freeman. According to Freeman, they spent $1,000 advertising on Facebook and Instagram, which he considers a success so far, “they are getting lots of hits and doing great.” Freeman says, “we are just doing our best trying to survive.” He said he needs the public to come and support them. “All we can do is hope and do a little praying,” Freeman said.

Aspen Grove Christmas in the Rockies Gift Mart

Open Monday through Thursday from noon to 5pm, Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Dec. 27. The market will be closed on Christmas Day.