MADRID, N.M. (KRQE) – This Christmas Eve, it’s a silent night in Madrid. But, not the kind business owners in the small New Mexico town want.

“It’s sad. It’s sad you know, to not be able to feel that Christmas,” Harvey Shugarman, owner of Shugarman’s Little Chocolate Shop, said. The small town is the self-proclaimed ‘Christmas town’ of New Mexico, relying heavily on holiday shoppers, lighting up the town every year, and even holding a Christmas parade that receives national attention.

“Madrid is just full of life and happiness and joy during Christmas. We have our wonderful Christmas parade that people come from everywhere to see. The town’s lit up. We have plays going on,” Shugarman said. But this year is different.

“We have very little tourists, and we didn’t do the Christmas parade – we’re not seeing any of our community,” he said. There were a handful of shoppers out on Christmas Eve, like Tom Greer and Cindy McCall Greer, who drove up from Valencia County to shop.

“We have to support each other. And they’re having as hard a time up here staying in business as our people are in Valencia County,” Tom said. He and his wife, Cindy, own Hub City Brewery in Belen and said they understand the hardships the pandemic has brought on busineses. But stores in Madrid weren’t seeing anything close to their normal holiday crowds.

“Normally, the store would be packed right now,” Ruth Aber, owner and manager of Mostly Madrid, said. “It’s very, very different. Business is down 75% for almost all of 2020…So, the stores here are having definitely quite the crunch.”

Some stores even chose to stay closed on Christmas Eve, which those open said rarely happened in years past. Like all businesses around the country, shops in Madrid are learning to adapt. Aber said some stores grouped together to create an online shopping experience. Others created their own stand-alone website.

“We created a website that I never wanted to do. Because I like the personal touch. What was always big in our shop was we always gave out samples when you came in. So, we had such a great experience with the one on one seeing people’s reaction to having the chocolate and we don’t do that anymore,” Shugarman said. “So for us, we adapted by doing a website and that really has been our saving grace.”

While Christmas may look different this year in Madrid, the small town still has that same Christmas magic that keeps shops hopeful for next year. “Obviously, we’re still here. So I am hopeful,” Aber said.

“I feel very hopeful. I hope with the vaccine, things will get back to normal. I try to be very positive and I think people when it’s ready, people are going to be out and they’re going to be happy,” Shugarmand said. Business owners also tell KRQE that the town hung lights differently this year to avoid needing a group to put up the lights.

Home for the Holidays