Aspen retailers planning ‘Shopping Extravaganza’ | AspenTimes.com

Aspen retailers planning ‘Shopping Extravaganza’

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A roomful of Aspen retailers rallied Monday night to hold a night of extended shopping hours on Friday, Aug. 16.

The so-called Aspen Shopping Extravaganza will feature merchants keeping their doors open until at least 9 or 10 p.m. The event is the first organized by the newly formed Aspen Retailers Association in order to revitalize the downtown commercial core.

The group will attempt to add music performed by students of the Aspen Music Festival and School to the mix, with the students playing for tips on sidewalks and street corners while locals and visitors peruse the marketplace.

Many retailers at the meeting noted that several years ago, more businesses in town stayed open later. Barry Gordon, owner of the Aspen Collection, said he’d like to see 75 percent of Aspen merchants take part in the evening.

“We’ll be getting people to hang around Aspen and have a fun evening out,” he said.

Although roughly 30 retailers showed up to Monday night’s meeting, Gordon said he expected a larger crowd to support revitalizing Aspen’s marketplace. He proposed staging a walk on Aspen City Hall to get the attention of city officials, who he says aren’t “sensitive to what’s happening to everybody” in the retail community.

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The suggestion brought chuckles from some, but several retailers supported the idea.

The retailers’ push for an emergency ordinance stopping real estate offices from moving into prime retail space in the commercial core was halted by the City Council in late July.

Although some business owners have said they don’t have the resources to keep their shops open late every night of the week, others with later hours say the time pays off.

“People are dying for things to do after dinner,” said Laurent Kosinski of the Aspen Fine Art Gallery on Hyman Avenue.

Kosinski said his gallery is a sort of beacon at night for visitors, since it is one of the only businesses in the area to stay open late.

“It’s amazing how many people comment to me that they’re surprised more businesses aren’t open at night,” he said. “It’s not good to be a beacon – people need to join us and stay open later.”

Rick Schultz, who operates Stars Memorabilia on Cooper Avenue, said on the nights his business is open late, it’s packed with people.

“Between 8:30 and 10:15 p.m. people are getting out of dinner, and they wander around town,” Schultz said.

Gordon is also encouraging businesses to have refreshments available to the public during the late shopping evening. He and several other retailers commented that eventually the evening should be a regular weekly occurrence, perhaps until the idea catches on permanently.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]