Cooper Avenue retailers ready to jump-start business |

Cooper Avenue retailers ready to jump-start business

Retailers on the Cooper Avenue mall have formed their own merchants’ group to jump-start business, and will offer sale prices and later hours on Friday and Saturday.

The Cooper Avenue Mall Retailers Association (CAMRA) was brought together by Mark Goodman of the Mark Richards fur shop at 427 E. Cooper Avenue. Goodman approached neighboring shops one at a time to encourage participation in an “end of summer mallwide event.”

“I think by acting very locally, we can make a difference,” he said. “Very locally means this mall. You could try to organize all of Aspen at once, but that would be very difficult.”

Special sales and later hours are something the Aspen Merchants Association has organized in the past. Last fall and winter the AMA agreed to keep member stores open later at night during scheduled “shopping extravaganzas.” But when the group’s president stepped down, no one stepped forward to plan additional events.

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association recently asked merchants to brainstorm on how to improve economic vitality. Having attended some of the brainstorming meetings, Goodman said he thought he and his neighbors could establish a plan of action sooner rather than later.

“I think the more events you do, assuming they’re well produced, done and thought out, the better the town is,” he said. “When there are empty stores here with nothing going on, there’s no interest in shopping.

“This is something that’s very inexpensive to do, and it will be great if it creates some excitement.”

The city has approved several permits for having signs, balloons and hopefully music out on the Cooper Avenue mall on Friday and Saturday, Goodman said. He’s gotten an enthusiastic response from many of his neighboring retailers, including Kemo Sabe, Aspen Sports, Manrico Cashmere, Aspen Comfort Shoes and Noori’s Collection.

“It’s a good experiment, and hopefully it’ll mean more traffic, bringing people in the gallery and an opportunity to purchase some good values,” said Penny Straka, manager at the Rachel Collection. “I commend him for taking some action.”

Straka said her shop plans on putting some smaller glass items on sale inside their front door to draw people inside.

Goodman hopes that by working together, stores can produce events efficiently, instead of spending money on advertising and production individually.

“Believe me, one of the most difficult tasks is getting merchants to go in on something together, because merchants here are fiercely independent,” he said. “People sit in meetings and pound the table and say, `Here’s what we have to do,’ but it’s not easy to get things done that way. How much can you really get done by committee?”

If the event works, Goodman hopes other groups of merchants, like maybe the Hyman Avenue mall, will try the same strategy. If any single retailer makes a sale because of the mallwide sale, he said he’ll consider the event a success.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is]

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