Aspen business hangs around during pandemic
As Aspen businesses and nonprofits try to keep hanging on through the winter, so does Gary Gleason, both literally and figuratively.
Since 2005, Gleason has been behind a business that simply does what it is called: Poster Placement. It started as a fundraising project that year for his son’s Sister Cities trip and morphed into a full-fledged operation when Gleason saw the help nonprofits and businesses needed to publicize their events and offerings.
Over those years Gleason and his sideman David Batterson, and other Poster Placement workers, have been bouncing up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, hanging up hundreds of posters promoting events ranging from Aspen Choral Society’s production of Handel’s “Messiah” to Aspen Skiing Co.’s spring break concerts.
Yet Gleason had to turn Batterson loose months after the pandemic broke in March. Clients, especially the nonprofits, weren’t advertising because they didn’t have much to promote. Events were canceled or postponed, while others went virtual, he said.
“We’d been a three-person operation for many years, and with the pandemic were able to get some Paycheck Protection and hang in there when there was nothing happening and there was zero income,“ Gleason said. ”By June, it became clear that the only way to survive is reinvent yourself.”
He thinks the same for his clients.
“I see the nonprofits through the same lens of having to reinvent themselves,” he said.
Poster Placement’s reinvention means a leaner staff of just one, and Gleason bought a scooter so he can do his business faster and more efficiently. The business has 109 locations — public parks, banks, bars and coffee shops, etc. — where the posters are placed.
He also has to keep tabs on them, replacing ones perhaps ruined by rain or snow, others torn down or covered by another poster.
Gleason, who used to handle marketing for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, enjoys the work because of the people he’s gotten to know over the years.
“The relationships I have with the business owners, with the nonprofits, just by wandering around the community, I feel much more connected,” he said.
For the businesses that do continue to promote their events and offerings through poster placement, Gleason said they get more bang for their buck these days.
“The reduced competition for space allowed us to clean up the chaos, so the few posters that are there really stand out,” said Poster Placement’s most recent field report, which also noted “some organizations have even shifted to recruitment and image posters, something you can’t much do in the crush of a normal season.”
More info on the company is available at gary@PosterPlacement.com.
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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the city of Aspen that challenged its zoning laws concerning Mill Street Plaza, which is home to locally serving businesses.