Closing shops seek help slashing prices
The name of the game in Aspen retail is always staying in business as long as possible. But some retailers that have had enough of that game are focusing on going out of business efficiently.By slashing prices and holding a competition with prizes for locals, Aspen Comfort Shoes has spent the last week encouraging people to buy every piece of inventory in the store. Owner Richard Glaser said he’s just tired of retail after owning the business for 10 years.”A friend of mine said when you do retail, you get to go straight to Nirvana afterward, so that’s where I’m headed,” he joked on Thursday afternoon. His lease in the Bidwell Building on the Cooper Avenue mall near Kemosabe is up in October, and at 49 years old, he was ready to bow out of the shoe business.That’s where Denver-based GA Wright Inc. comes in. The company specializes in all sides of retail consulting, including advertising, marketing and going-out-of-business sales.Don Tollefson is helping out with the closing sale for Aspen Comfort Shoes, which plans to stay open and keep cutting prices until (almost) every last shoelace is out the door. Tollefson started by sending locals letters about the upcoming sales.By the first sale day, people waiting to try on footwear at reduced prices lined up around the corner. The shop’s tiny front display room was made larger by knocking down the wall to a back storage room, where there are now rows of shelving full of shoe boxes.”This is a good way for retailers to thank their past customers, and the community is fairly small so people here are sad that the store is closing,” Tollefson said. His job is traffic control within the store, managing the prize competition and reducing prices when he notices what merchandise is selling and what is not.There’s no telling when the sale will be over and Aspen Comfort Shoes will shut its doors for good – Glaser said he’s trying to sell almost everything.Aspen is no stranger to this sort of well-organized closing sale. In 2002 Aspen Drug closed after 112 years in business on the Hyman Avenue mall and hired GA Wright to sell each bottle of nail polish remover, postcard and mug it had left in stock.More recently, Funky Mountain Threads on the Hyman Avenue mall went out of business using GA Wright’s services. Owner Bronwyn Anglin tried to sell the business starting in April but had an Aug. 30 deadline to complete the sale so she could work closer to her daughter, who starts kindergarten in Basalt this year.”It was really a series of tough decisions – what will I do if someone doesn’t buy my business? Some local businesses have been on sale for quite a long time,” she said. “It’s not cheap to hire a consultant company, but there was no way I was going to walk away from this without debt.”Anglin [and Glaser at Aspen Comfort Shoes] won’t reveal GA Wright’s fees, but Anglin said it’s different for every business. It took five weeks of sales for Anglin to sell the clothing, jewelry and knick-knacks on her shelves, as well as some of the shelves themselves. She’s consigning some leftovers at Gracy’s and has given other things to the Aspen Thrift Shop.”There was so much stress involved, I couldn’t have done it without a consultant,” she said. “I would have been sitting on the floor crying.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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