Late night with Aspen shops
August 20, 2002
An estimated 75 percent of Aspen businesses took part in the first Aspen Shopping Extravaganza on Friday night, and many expressed satisfaction with an increased amount of evening foot traffic.
“We kept track of people coming in, and between 8 and 10 p.m. we had 45 people come through the door,” said Bronwyn Anglin, owner of Funky Mountain Threads. “For us that’s good.”
The evening was organized by the newly formed Aspen Retailers Association, with the goal of keeping businesses open longer to draw evening strollers. At the association’s most recent meeting, some owners of shops that stay open later said visitors often comment on the lack of activity in town after the dinner hours.
Friday, many businesses stayed open until 10 p.m., and students from the Aspen Music Festival and School provided music.
“It felt like the old days again when people were out walking – families eating ice cream and walking up and down the streets,” said Barry Gordon, organizer of the retailers association and owner of the Aspen Collection. “The crowds were out, the energy from retailers was so upbeat, and it was so healthy to see this reaction.”
Gordon said the foot traffic was particularly important for the event.
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“It was fantastic,” said Colleen Tuohy, a saleswoman at Kemo Sabe. “There was a lull during the dinner hours, but after that we had a nice flow of people.”
Tuohy said in the summer Kemo Sabe stays open until 7 p.m., and that even just two extra hours of business would make a difference.
“It was a great experience, and I think that we would definitely consider anything that benefits more business,” she said. “I didn’t mind being here [later] – Kemo Sabe is a good place to be.”
Jennifer Sennett at Fitigues said she thought staying open late was worth the business on Friday night, and she said she heard several customers comment that it was nice to be able to shop later in the evening.
Gordon hopes Friday night was an impetus for other retailers to consider longer hours.
“If they all see that they can cover costs and make additional dollars, then that certainly justifies them staying open,” Gordon said. “The most important thing is that tourists and locals come in and find that wow, this is getting to be fun again instead of thinking there’s nothing to do and the town is dead.”
At Pattie’s Gemagination Jewelers, Pattie Ward said the shop did see a lot more foot traffic than normal, even though the store is normally open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
“I think the word got out. I think it’s August and there are a lot of people out,” she said, adding that she probably wouldn’t consider keeping the store open late the rest of the week.
“I don’t think night traffic is the problem – I think getting people here and filling beds are the problems,” she said. “Because if people are here, they’ll come out. We need more people; we need more hotel rooms filled.”
Ward said she’d also like to see more families in town, rather than “billionaires.”
“Our population of tourists and people who live here is aging, so how much can we sell them? They already have everything,” Ward said. “They’ve supported this town for 25 years. Our old customers are wonderful, but we need new customers. We don’t have enough young families.”
With the off-season just around the corner, Gordon said the next night for evening shopping may not happen until around Thanksgiving. Eventually, he’d like to see the event happen once or twice a week on a regular basis.
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]