A Local Shopper’s Gift Guide
With Aspen’s abundance of places to shop, there is no need to worry about supply-chain issues and product backups
The horror stories have started to build as shoppers are turning away from online buying as the snarl of pandemic-bred global supply chain issues have made e-commerce unpredictable and unreliable. (“Oh, so my ugly Christmas sweater is now due for arrival Jan. 15? Whatever, Amazon!”).
With cargo jams at our nation’s ports and supply-chain issues from the oceans up to 7,908 feet above sea level, shopping and buying locally brings an even bigger emphasis this holiday season.
Thankfully, Aspen is a shopping town. And, despite the glitzy reputation and the 6-figure price tags on some local jewelry, there are options for gifts at any price point.
Local shop owners took heed after the summer onslaught and ordered far ahead for the winter season, and many have plenty of options in stock. Thus, the tangible gift is within reach and you don’t have to write up an “IOU” note and print out a pic of the present that’s “on its way.”
“This summer was super-challenging. We were very low on product, but it has opened up for us and now we’re fully stocked,” said Lisa LeMay at Aspen T-Shirt Company, who also sits on the Aspen Resort Chamber Association board representing local retailers. “I’ve heard with a lot of the people coming in over (Thanksgiving weekend) so far that instead of sitting at home looking on the internet for bargains there, they’d rather walk in, have it in hand and know they’ll have the product rather than ordering it online and it gets delayed and delayed again and then four days from Christmas they are scrambling to get a gift.”
After a stroll through town at some of our favorite long-time Aspen shops, we’ve picked out few things to help get you out and shopping locally:
And if you’re looking for more ideas on local shops and retailers, watch for our 2021 edition of “Best of Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt,” which hits newsstands and online Dec. 9. It has an entire section on the best places to shop (as well as places to eat, drink and be merry).
For the outdoors enthusiast
Great thing about our locale, we’ve got plenty of great businesses to find something for those friends who are outside more than inside. We checked in with our friends at Ute Mountaineer, and they had a few suggestions:
These deep muscle treatment devices “are flying off the shelf” said one employee. The (electric/heat/something about how they work) are great to enhance muscle recovery, release stress and tension, and soothe discomfort.
Water bottle ($15.99); head lamp ($44.95); assorted treats
Right at the edge of a stocking stuffers, who wouldn’t want a fresh water bottle filled with trail treats and wrapped in a new headlamp?
For the fashion lovers
Yes, high-end shopping is a big draw for some Aspen visitors, but we’ve also got some pretty cool shops that have been around and know that Colorado look.
When that Amazon guy took his rocket ship into space in July, he was sporting a hat with Aspen roots from Kemosabe. For the Jeff Bezos fan in your life, pick up a hat from Kemo’s ‘Grit’ series.
“Love” gloves ($165) ; “Love” scarf ($145); Ski sweater ($434)
Plenty to mix and match at the landmark Pitkin County Dry Goods and a way to show a little love. How about putting together an outfit to keep that someone special warm and cozy..
Uno de 50 silver jewelry
The quaint Misstyx shop just off the Hyman Mall has been around for 25 years, and a few years back owner Jill Harbour Murphy started carrying a large selection of silver pieces (you are in Silver City, after all) from the affordable “Uno de 50” line.
All about Aspen
You can never go wrong with a little Aspen-centric gift. Here are a couple hot times around town:
Aspen Sweatshirt ($34.99): Aspen picture frame (34.99); Aspen mug ($15.99)
A few top sellers at the Aspen T-Shirt Company, according to Lisa Lemay, include the simple, iconic Aspen shirt as well a variety of Aspen-branded frames and mugs.
The Aspen Cookbook
After coming out in 2020 to help local restaurant workers during the pandemic, this collection of more than 100 recipes from your favorite local eateries to try at home has become a hot item. It’s online at aspencommunitycookbook.com and a few local shops (which are listed on the homepage).
Aspen’s iconic space
There are a few businesses in town that have established themselves as great go-to gift places at the last minute, starting with Carl’s Pharmacy. Here are few of the staff’s top picks from the thousands of options at one of Aspen’s favorite long-time retail shops:
Aspen Leaf Ornament
Nothing says Aspen, more than, well, a gold-plated aspen leaf. The Rocky Mountain Leaf Company makes them using copper electroplating then coating in 24-karat gold.
Jack Black men’s skin care
They don’t know they need it until they try it, said one of Carl’s manager of the men’s skin care line. With a variety of products (which come in 2-3 sizes each), the line checks the boxes from cruelty-free to certified organic for many of their creams.
Elf on a Shelf
The tradition has gained popularity in the past decade, and this little fella is a fun and different way to start a new tradition.
Wood workings work
The selection of fun, unusual and local stuff at the famed Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus is mind-boggling. We zeroed in on a few options made from nature (and all Colorado artists):
3D mountain models
Jeff Hankens has found a way to create 3D models carved into wood of some of his favorite wild places.
Flower vase of fir, bamboo, walnut
Fairweather Woodshop’s offerings at the Emporium have grown in the past year, and the variety of woods and colors intertwined in Tom Verry’s works continues to impress.
Wine barrel, bike chain hanger
The Alpine Wine Design collection has a number of good options but his mix of a couple of Aspen’s favorite things is a unique piece for the wine-drinking cyclist in your world.
For the art enthusiast
You’ve certainly got your pick of art in Aspen as international galleries have opened up shop here at 7,908 feet. Stroll through those, but here are some other options.
Red Brick residents
Red Brick Resident Artists’ Exhibition. There are 12 resident artists, and the annual exhibition, which opened Nov. 11, is a great way to meet them and find some unique gifts. This year, the open-to-the-public Holiday Party is Dec. 9 (4 to 7 p.m.) and the artists will be in attendance.
Aspen Art Museum’s Warhol inspiration
For the Andy Warhol fan in your world, the Aspen Art Museum gift shop will have a new Warhol-inspired shop starting Dec. 3, which is when the “Andy Warhol: Lifetimes” exhibit opens its run. “Possession Obsession” will bring together “the expensive with the inexpensive, playfully engaging with associations between collecting and mass culture, and cultural definitions of taste and kitsch,” said the folks at AAM.
Another uniquely Aspen art offering is Aspen Chapel Gallery’s 16th edition of the “Small Wonders” show, which features affordable pieces with everything no larger than 12-inches by 12-inches. The exhibit runs through Jan. 3 and includes more than 30 artists.
For the history buff bookworms
Our friends at Explorer Booksellers on Main Street have a room of Colorado, Western U.S., and skiing books, perfect for someone new to the area looking to learn more about this beautiful place or connect with the sport. Here are a few suggestions:
“Aspen: Rocky Mountain Paradise”
Longtime local writer and historical wizard Paul Andersen’s text with hundreds of images from local photographers will make you forget about the time and take you back in some local history and mountain culture.
“Aspen: Mind, Body & Spirit”
Another Aspen offering from Andersen, who for more than three decades penned a weekly column for The Aspen Times before retiring earlier this year. His take on Aspen’s ethos set forth by the Paepcke family — “Mind, Body, Spirit” — is a good reminder for longtime locals and a roadmap for aspiring locals.
This collection of “Nostalgic Images from the Golden Age of Skiing” are some of the best work from landscape photographer Ray Atkeson, who worked the West Coast from the 1940s into the ’70s.