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Is a discount day too tacky for Aspen shops?

Janet Urquhart

A sidewalk sale in Aspen? Well, maybe not.

However, Aspen’s Commercial Core and Lodging Commission is exploring ideas for some sort of coordinated “big sale” to liven up the off-season economy.

“Could you hold a destination weekend marketed around a Super Sale weekend in Aspen?” said Bill Dinsmoor, owner of the Main Street Bakery and Cafe and a commission member. “Ozzie’s has a great shoe sale every year. Why not do that in conjunction with ski stores and sports stores?”

Actually setting aside a day when retailers drag racks of sale items out onto the sidewalks, though, may be a bit too plebeian for glitzy Aspen to get behind. That, at least, is the sense the commission is getting from merchants.

“What we’re hearing so far is that the concept of a sidewalk sale is not overly

loved by our merchants,” said commission member John Starr. “It was sort of a tacky concept.”

The potential for an organized sale, however, and possible suspension of the city’s sales tax for the day, has generated some interest, Starr said.

“There seems to be a good deal of enthusiasm from merchants about that idea,” he said.

Such an event could be held in conjunction with special activities of one sort or another in town, perhaps on the mall, noted Dinsmoor. Retailers could see a boost in sale activity when the town is at its deadest, and locals would presumably enjoy some better-than-average bargains from merchants looking to clear out their inventories.

The commission has asked the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to look into marketing such an event and city staffers to research the impact on city coffers of suspending Aspen’s sales tax for a day.

The group meets next on Feb. 7 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, and local retailers are encouraged to attend and discuss the idea.

“We’d like to have lots of people from the retail community come and tell us if the notion is credible,” Dinsmoor said.


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