Some people watch for turning leaves or dropping temperatures as a sign that fall is coming. We watch for the first tent to appear outside of the Sports Castle in anticipation of Sniagrab, the giant Labor Day sale that Sports Authority continued when it took over this flagship of the Gart's empire -- and which may have been delayed this year over concerns about the recently enacted urban camping ban.
Last year, campers started showing up on Wednesday, ten days before the sale would start -- on the Saturday before Labor Day. But this year, no tents appeared last Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday.
Had the bargain-hunters been scared away by the urban camping ban that Denver City Council passed a few months ago? That ordinance was aimed at the homeless folks sleeping on the mall (with the side benefit of also preventing Occupy Denver protesters of sleeping on the formerly legal sidewalks), not eager shoppers. And the city and Sports Authority worked hard to come up with the proper permitting that would allow people to camp outside on the sidewalk.
Late last week, Sports Authority issued this statement regarding the legalities:
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Sports Authority worked with the City for a special permit to allow Sniagrab enthusiasts to begin lining up early this year including camping overnight. In previous years we've had the first customers in line up to a week ahead of start of the sale on Saturday with over 400 customers in line by 7 a.m. on Saturday.
We anticipate similar excitement this year as we've increased our inventory by 35 percent and it's on sale for up to 80 percent off original prices on previous years' ski & snowboard equipment and more.
Similar excitement? Last night a lone camper finally appeared -- five days after the first pioneer in 2011 -- and promptly disappeared after a Westword writer chatted him up. But apparently others are not shy: As you can see, there are now four tents pitched at Tenth and Broadway.
Their occupants shouldn't worry. They're not going to be arrested just for wanting bargain ski equipment.
More from our Things to Do archive circa August 2011: "Sports Authority SNIAGRAB line starts forming ten days before sale: Earliest ever? (PHOTOS)."