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Front Range retailers hope 2021 holiday shopping season is a little brighter

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Front Range retailers hope 2021 holiday shopping season is a little brighter

Area businesses that have survived the pandemic are banking on the increase in activity and travel to make this year’s holiday shopping season a bit brighter.

Department and big-box stores offered deals on Black Friday while local stores looked forward to Small Business Saturday. The day geared toward independent retailers and other businesses was founded in 2010 by American Express and is cosponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Wheelhouse Gifts on Denver’s South Pearl Street opened in 2020. The store, owned by Jody Fidler, was open for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday last holiday season.

“But because of the pandemic, it wasn’t probably as impactful as it could have been for us,” said Molly Casey, an employee who’s in charge of the store’s social media. “This year, knowing we can be fully open despite the mask mandate, is really important to us.”

Retail analysts and trade organizations say there’s reason for optimism this year. The National Retail Federation said sales rose in October by 1.7% from September despite ongoing labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and rising inflation.

Denver-area shopping centers experienced “a very significant and positive visit trend” in October, according to a statement by Placer.ai, which provides analysis of foot traffic based on data from devices enabled to share the information. Data from Placer.ai showed visits in October to three metro-area shopping centers — Cherry Creek in Denver, Southlands in Aurora and Park Meadows in Lone Tree — were at or slightly above levels for the same period in 2019.

October’s sales numbers indicate people are responding to factors affecting retailers heading into the holidays, said Dave Bruno, director of retail market insights at Aptos, a retail technology company.

“People are shopping early to minimize the risk of supply chain disruptions and inventory outages impacting their holiday gift-giving,” Bruno said in a statement. “The big question, obviously, is whether much of the planned holiday buying is being done early and December sales will suffer, or if this confidence and buying power will sustain strong growth throughout the entire season.”

Charlotte Elich is among Denver-area business owners who hope people turn out in force to support local retailers this holiday season.

“I’m always optimistic. My goal is always to surpass the year before and I’ll say we always seem to have done it, except for 2020,” Elich said. “Now my goal is to at least match 2019 this year.”

To meet that goal, Elich will have to deal with working shorthanded, something businesses from the country’s largest corporations to small mom-and-pop shops are facing as people have quit jobs or not returned after furloughs and layoffs. Elich, who owns 5 Green Boxes gift shop and another store on South Pearl Street in Denver, was struggling to cover shifts when two employees recently quit.

Now, Elich is working in the office during the week and working the counter on weekends. She also has to worry about staffing her store in Union Station in Lower Downtown and an outlet site on the weekends.

“It seems like I had a lot more applicants” in past years, Elich said. “I don’t have a whole lot of people applying these days.”

Elich, who has weathered the ups and downs of the pandemic, has been in business for 44 years.

Shauna Sankey of Colorado Springs started BlackGirlSalsa in August 2020 and hopes to grow it into a full-time venture. She is encouraged by the support she sees for small businesses in campaigns like Google’s Black Owned Friday and Small Business Saturday.

“It wasn’t like a master plan. It just kinda fell into that situation,” Sankey said of her pandemic-born pursuit.

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

Denver International Airport ranked sixth nationally in 2021 for the number of firearms seized by TSA agents at security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday.

In 2021, agents found 141 firearms in travelers carry-on luggage, more than any year since 2018, according to TSA data. Nationally, 5,972 guns were seized at airport security checkpoints. The 141 guns seized set a new record at the Denver airport, the TSA said in a news release.

“As the data suggests, travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage is not new and we have now reached an unacceptable level of carelessness by gun owners. Simply stated, one gun in carry-on luggage is one too many,” TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau said in a news release.

Still, the percentage of passengers trying to bring guns onto airplanes is small.

Security agents at DIA screened approximately 18.3 million departing passengers and crew in 2021, making it the sixth busiest airport for TSA security checkpoint screening operations. That is a 72% increase in passenger traffic over 2020, a year where air travel was marred by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airports with the most firearms seized at security in 2021 are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport , 507
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 317
  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 196
  • Nashville International Airport, 163.

Travelers caught with firearms at an airport security checkpoint face criminal and civil penalties. Even those with concealed carry permits must check their unloaded weapons in a hard-sided case.

For more information on carrying firearms on an airplane, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

We have a paradox going on in Colorado: employers are desperately looking for talent, and older adults are desperately looking for work. But workforce age discrimination makes it difficult for older Coloradans to fully contribute to the labor market.

For years, older workers from every corner of the state have told me their frustrating and often heartbreaking stories of age discrimination that prevented them from landing needed jobs, that they faced once in the workplace, and that they felt as they were forced out.

Stories like these: a man who was a colleague of mine, a fundraising pro with decades of success who couldn’t get callbacks for development jobs; a former corporate marketing VP who was told that she lost out to a younger applicant because the hiring manager assumed she would not be social media savvy; a group of women in their 60s forced to live on small social security checks — this despite help-wanted signs in almost every store window in their Western Slope town.

Such age discrimination is common: studies from AARP and others show that 78% of workers over 45 have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and over one-half of long-time, employees age 50 and over are forced to leave positions before they would voluntarily choose to do so. Once this happens, only 10% of them ever regain their previous economic status.

Nationwide, the country lost $850 billion in GDP due to age discrimination and that could grow to $3.9 trillion by 2050, reports the AARP.

Discrimination based upon age has especially harmful consequences for already economically vulnerable groups like women, people of color, and those with low incomes.

There are many reasons to work toward ending workforce age discrimination. There are ways to do it, and there’s no time to waste.

First off, ending age discrimination is good for business. Older adults provide numerous benefits in the workplace. Intergenerational teams create mentoring opportunities, improve team problem-solving, and increase creativity born from combining different perspectives and histories.

Keeping older workers on the job strengthens economies from Main Street to Wall Street. Ongoing paychecks mean more disposable income spent and more taxes paid, while tax-supported benefits can be delayed.

Older adults also need to continue working: the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 48% of households headed by a person aged 55 or older lack retirement savings. The median 401(k) balance for those between 55 and 64 is less than $15,000. For older adults who lack adequate savings, continuing to work past the traditional retirement age is an economic necessity.

Last, but not least, older adults want to continue working, and continued workforce participation may be connected to better physical and mental health for older adults.

When the legislature reconvenes in January, we can change our workforce discrimination laws so that our economy benefits from the experience and wisdom of older workers.

We must end requirements that job applicants write their high school graduation dates or other age-identifiers on application forms. Right now, it is illegal to ask someone their age, but not their high school graduation date.

And also, ensure that the penalties for age discrimination are commensurate with those for other forms of discrimination. Currently in Colorado, compensatory and punitive damages are allowed in race and gender discrimination cases, but not for age.

Make clear that Colorado’s age discrimination laws apply to hiring, and that the burden of providing age discrimination is not higher than for other forms of discrimination.

Some problems seem overwhelming and too big to solve, but this is one we can address. Certainly, we can’t legislate away ageism, but we can give older workers the same protections afforded to other groups — and we can help businesses get and keep the workers they need.

Janine Vanderburg directs Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based campaign to change the way people think, talk and act about aging and ageism. The end game? To end ageism. You can read more about what they are doing to reduce workplace ageism.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

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Dolphins Q&A: An early look at possible selections with late first-round draft pick

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Dolphins Q&A: An early look at possible selections with late first-round draft pick

Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.

Q: With the 25th pick of Round 1 … u select whom…? — Bob Witmer on Twitter

A: First, let’s clarify that the Dolphins’ place in the first round isn’t set in stone yet. With the Dolphins owning the San Francisco 49ers’ selection, Miami will select, at best, No. 25, but it could more likely be 26th or fall even further back.

If you go chalk in the divisional round, with the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals losing at the respective top-seeded Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans, it’s 26. If San Francisco loses and Cincinnati wins, it’s 25. If the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship Game, it will be drop into the final four selections of the opening round.

Essentially, we’re looking at what the Dolphins’ top possibilities will be late in the first round. Miami also now seems more likely to keep this pick with the team essentially ruling out a move for another starting quarterback this offseason and sticking with Tua Tagovailoa heading into his third NFL season.

Picking late in the first round, there are a few offensive tackles that are getting projected to go in that range. I would like to see the Dolphins add at least two offensive linemen this offseason that could serve as an immediate upgrade over what they currently have starting and at least one a veteran free agent. To throw out a couple of names, New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead or New England Patriots right tackle Trent Brown.

If Miami wants to go the route of getting another lineman with the late-first-round choice, general manager Chris Grier may be leaning on the next head coach’s expertise after the combination of he and ex-coach Brian Flores expended a first (Austin Jackson), two seconds (Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt), a third (Michael Deiter), a fourth (Solomon Kindley, a sixth (Isaiah Prince) and a seventh (Larnel Coleman) on linemen over the past three drafts with only one sure-fire NFL-caliber starter to show for it in Hunt at right guard.

A few names to look out for where the Dolphins will be selecting are Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere, Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning.

Petit-Frere (6 feet 5, 315 pounds) stood out at left tackle for the Buckeyes and opted out of playing in the Rose Bowl with his draft status already secured. He has experience at right tackle, as well, starting there in 2020, and could slide over if needed to protect the left-handed Tagovailoa’s blind side.

Raimann (6-7, 305) is considered a fast riser by Pro Football Focus for his overall blocking grades in 2021, making a significant leap from the previous year. The Austrian foreign exchange student in high school started his college career as a project tight end before growing into a left tackle, where he started playing in 2020.

Penning (6-7, 322) has experience at both tackle spots and guard while possessing the prototypical height, weight and length and being light on his feet at that size. Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard and UCLA’s Sean Rhyan are also some that could be considered.

You also want to see the Dolphins add a starting running back and a receiving weapon in the offseason. Unless a running back emerges between the Senior Bowl and scouting combine, none appear to be going in the first round. Maybe Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker remains available when Miami’s middle-of-the-second pick comes around. He possesses an exceptional ability to break tackles, as seen when he played at Hard Rock Stadium against the Hurricanes last September.

The Dolphins can also do their homework on several receivers, eyeing which one drops that they like between USC’s Drake London, Ohio State’s Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks or Penn State’s Jahan Dotson.

The free agent moves made in March will bring greater clarity on needs remaining going into the draft from April 28 to April 30, but it’s unlikely the offensive line is entirely fixed on free agency alone. So, it’s a good bet, especially given how many viable prospects are expected to go in this area of the draft, that the Dolphins go with a lineman there.

Have a question?

Email David Furones, or tag @OmarKelly or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.

Previously answered:

Can Dolphins hire offensive coach, keep defensive assistants?

Does Zach Thomas get into Hall of Fame this year?

Why not throw downfield to Waddle more?

What do Dolphins think of practice squad rookie RB Gerrid Doaks?

What free agent receiver could Dolphins pair with Waddle?

What is with Jason Sanders’ misses?

What changes could come to receiving corps in offseason?

What offensive linemen should Dolphins target in free agency?

Can Tua still be a top-10 quarterback?

Does Austin Jackson’s move to left guard bring hope?

Did franchise botch Fitzpatrick, Tunsil, Tannehill trades?

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