Can Aspen lighten up a bit here?
We can’t help finding it amusing that the City Council continues to fret over outdoor merchandise displays, as in clothing racks, boxes and other means of placing items for sale outside local shops (see related story, in News).
Is this really such a threat that it requires regulation by the already overburdened Community Development Department?
Certainly, nobody wants Aspen to turn into a flea market of old clothes, bumper stickers and cheap jewelry every time merchants decide to clear their inventory. But we hardly feel that such a fate is in store, given the fact that a pair of faded jeans can command hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in this town.
It’s hard enough already for merchants to survive in Aspen.
If outdoor racks can help retailers sell discounted merchandise, then we say, ” Nice rack!” Even the nonshoppers among us will browse a rack of pants or shirts if we sense a good deal dangling from some hidden hanger. The racks add life to downtown, they add to the city’s sales tax revenues, and they help businesses survive. These benefits strongly outweigh any nitpicky arguments about clutter and taste.
We were amazed to learn at a meeting Tuesday afternoon that plastic and dry-erase boards are forbidden in Aspen, while painted wood- and chalkboards are allowed. If this isn’t stuffy and uptight, then what is?
Council members told merchants that they’d like to see more creativity in the displays along the malls and sidewalks.
We’re unsure what kind of creativity they’re looking for. Can you spell “micromanagement”?
A few years ago, a group of consultants was hired to assess Aspen’s downtown and what could be done to liven it up.
Loosen the regulations, they said, and allow a little commercial life to creep back in. They didn’t recommend flashing neon signs, billboards or a mass influx of toothless street performers; they just suggested, essentially, that Aspen lighten up.
Outdoor displays are a perfect example. What are we so afraid of?