SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Not many can say they have the luxury of living the best of both worlds. For Debbie Orzech and her family however, who live summers on the beach in New Jersey and winters on the mountains here in Snowmass Village, relishing in the best of what life offers comes quite easy. For the past four years, Debbie and her husband Ed have packed their two kids, a dog and all their belongings into a single truck to make their way either back to the mountains or back to the beach - both places they have no problem calling home. And while some might have their doubts as to whether living life in two places is even possible, for Debbie and her family, it's the only thing they have really grown to believe in.
But beyond the recreational frills of summer surfing and winter skiing that comes with the vacation lifestyle, Debbie and Ed work to maintain their 25-year-old retail business in Stone Harbor, N.J. - a business that has not only brought them great success on the beach, but in recent months has somehow found its mark all the way out here in Snowmass Village.
This winter, Debbie's collection of hand-painted ornaments all the way from Paisley Christmas Shoppe will be on sale in 81615 on the main level of the Snowmass Mall.
Curious, I tracked down Debbie to discuss her business, the ideas behind the ornaments, and her methods for managing life in two places.
Snowmass Sun: What are these ornaments exactly, and where did the idea stem from?
Debbie Orzech: They are hand-painted scenes of Santa on skis, snowmen on snowboards, mammoths, gondolas and landmark places in the area on real aspen wood. I have been painting on shells in (New Jersey) and selling them as ornaments for years, but the idea to paint on wood came to me when I was hiking out here one day. I picked up a piece of loose wood and thought, "Hmm, that would be cool to paint mountain scenes on this."
SS: What value do you think having a Christmas shop on the beach brings to Stone Harbor, and what value do you think your ornaments will ultimately bring to Snowmass?
DO: When we first came out here one of the first things that came to mind was the fact that neither Aspen nor Snowmass had a Christmas shop. My store in (New Jersey) has become the place where tourists come to buy keepsake items, such as ornaments, for remembering their beach vacation. Likewise, I hope people in Snowmass will look to my ornaments as a way to remember their vacation in the mountains.
SS: You say painting ornaments is something you love doing - almost like a side hobby. Do you foresee yourself going further with the idea and possibly opening a store here in Snowmass?
DO: People ask me that all the time. I can't say I haven't thought of it, but my family and I have always looked to our time in the mountains as our time off - kind of like how a lot of people look to the offseason. For now I'm OK with just selling my ornaments to the local stores. What I do know though is that if it stops being fun, I will most likely quit it altogether.
SS: What would you say is the hardest thing about commuting back and forth from the beach to the mountains and vice versa?
DO: We have our responsibilities at the shop on the beach, which means there have been times where my husband stays longer or goes back earlier, and I move the kids with the dog to get them here in time to start school. It is crazy most of the time, and we aren't always a family unit when half is there and half is here, but at the same time we love every bit of it.
SS: If you had to choose one place over the other to live full time, which would you choose?
DO: At this point I really can't choose. My whole family has such an allegiance to both places - my kids are in ski club here, my husband is a ski instructor, I manage part time at a restaurant, and our business and all our relatives are back there. For my family and me, both places work just fine.