Despite big boxes, Vail shoppers hit the road
EAGLE COUNTY If you need toilet paper or a pound of ground beef, there’s no need to leave Vail Valley. But if a new pair of shoes or jeans is on your “to buy” list, you may be among the residents who choose to get in the car and go for a drive.Plenty of shoppers are taking their dollars to Silverthorne and the Glenwood Mall – even making regular trips -to get the things they can’t find in Eagle County. Others have learned to live without until they have a good reason to go out of town for something else.”I don’t really like doing my shopping at big-box stores, but we don’t have any other choice,” said Wal-Mart shopper Sarah Simeonova. “It’s the cheapest place in town to get all your basics, but I go shop in Silverthorne every chance I get.”Calvin Klein clothing and better brand names than the “cheap stuff Wal-Mart sells” are on Simeonova’s list every time she passes through Summit County, she said. But that’s not often.”I don’t get there nearly as much as I’d like, but I love going there and buying the name brands you either can’t find or – more likely – can’t afford here in Vail,” Simeonova said. The discount warehouse Costco is not that great of an alternative either, shopper Bert Clafin said. “Who wants to buy a membership and drive all the way to Gypsum to buy more stuff than you even have room for,” Clafin said. “I do most of my shopping at City Market and Wal-Mart, but about once a month we go to Glenwood Springs to hit the better stores.”A membership at Costco is $50 for a new sign-up. It’s too pricey for Clafin, but Eagle-Vail resident Cameron Bataki said it easily pays for itself in just a month.”It can be a hassle at first, but in the long run you won’t know how to live without a Costco,” Bataki said. “Living in this valley is expensive enough already, why not take advantage of every price saving thing you can?”Both Clafin and Bataki said there’s a lack of specialty stores where unique gifts can be bought. “I love going to Wishes Toy Store,” Clafin said. “I buy things for my niece or birthday’s of friends’ kids, and they have such a great shop there. I just wish it weren’t so expensive.”The boutiques in Vail and Beaver Creek are a great place to buy gifts, but are a “laughable” answer to the average person’s consumer needs, he said. Target is a prime destination for most shoppers who travel outside the county to buy things. “I definitely think it’s worth driving the 45 minutes it takes to get to Glenwood or Silverthorne for a Target,” Bataki said. “It’s nicer stuff, and they are more family friendly in that they have more variety at low prices for children’s things.”It’s a toss-up between the name brands Silverthorne offers and low cost variety of the Glenwood Springs mall, shoppers said. “I think the stores in the Glenwood mall are cheaper than the outlets in Silverthorne,” said Simeonova’s husband Svilen. “You can get shoes, clothing, things for the house … everything you need. Plus it’s easier to shop around at.””I wish they would bring a JC Penny here like they have there,” Simeonova added. “They would make a killing.”Of the stores people said they would like to see be built in Vail Valley, JC Penny topped the list with four out of six people who were interviewed saying they would regularly shop at the store if it were built. “If I had a choice between Wal-Mart or the boutiques around town and JC Penny, I would choose Penny’s every time,” Simeonova said. “And maybe they could bring a Jamba Juice. I would kill for a Jamba Juice.”
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