A business plan worth hearing | AspenTimes.com

A business plan worth hearing

At first blush, the city’s brainstorming session about having community members buy into locally serving business seemed a bit meddlesome.

After all, tampering with a free market can have disastrous consequences. But Aspen is not your average free market. And when you get down to it, this resort town only will see more handbag and jewelry shops open their doors while more mom-and-pop stores close theirs. This is nothing new.

But it is encouraging to see the city eye innovative ways to maintain businesses in town that would actually serve working-class locals. The idea only is in its embryonic stage, and we cannot help but support it at this time.

Ways of going about this include using a model in which residents band together to buy a locally serving business, such as a drugstore. Perhaps the most well-known example of this concept can be found in Green Bay, Wis., where residents actually own shares in the Packers (no offense, Broncos fans).

The city, in theory, would have a stake, too, by buying down part of the land on which the business sits or offering grants to shareholders to offset start-up and maintenance costs.

The city envisions moving this idea forward by talking to store and building owners to see what their plans are for the future, so city officials can map out a succession plan for the business and property.

Indeed, pushing forward this concept would take the support of community members willing to put some money into these businesses. As much as we bemoan the loss of Aspen’s “soul,” not to mention affordable places to buy underwear and socks, we’re actually hearing a proactive idea to address this tired old problem. This could be one way to put our money where our mouths are.

At the very least, we encourage Aspen residents to stay involved in these discussions and voice their opinions as well. This is an opportunity that is at least worth giving a listen, if not seeing through as well.

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