Merchants: Keep booths off our block |

Merchants: Keep booths off our block

Janet Urquhart

The Aspen Saturday Market will apparently stay put after a roomful of downtown retailers on Wednesday panned a proposal to move it closer to the center of town.More than a dozen business owners told the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission to leave the weekly summertime market where it is. And some criticized the sale of “crappy crafts” in Aspen, regardless of the event’s location.The CCLC had floated the idea of moving the market from its block of Hopkins and block of Hunter to a block of Hyman Avenue and a section of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue. The latest plan called for vendors on both sides of Hyman, between Hunter and Galena, as well as a single line of booths spaced out along Galena and rounding the curve onto Cooper. The goal was to bring the market crowds closer to the pedestrian malls and the core shopping area, and to allow a couple of adjacent restaurants to add outdoor dining to the event.”Why screw up something that already works?” asked David Fleisher, owner of Pitkin County Dry Goods on Cooper Avenue.”To take away parking for our consumers … is very devastating for all of us,” added Becky Dumeresque, owner of Chequers and co-owner of Restaurant Mogador. “I really don’t think you have an idea about what you’re about to cause.”The clientele that shops the crafts and produce booths at the market aren’t necessarily the same individuals who frequent the high-end boutiques on Galena and Cooper, merchants complained.”Don’t take away the integrity of what we already have on Galena and Cooper,” advised Cos Bar owner Lily Garfield.Only a representative of Paradise Bakery embraced the relocation of the market to the street outside the bakery’s door.”The farmers market is great for our business,” said Tracy Holmes, Paradise general manager. “I would love to see it closer to our business.”A number of retailers, however, believe the market negatively impacts store traffic on Saturdays, said John Francis, owner of Chepita. The number of people who come into his Cooper Avenue jewelry store on Saturdays has dropped off, he said.”I have a problem with moving an operation destructive to my business closer to my business,” Francis said.He also had harsh words for the craft element at the market.”I think the quality of the Saturday market is embarrassing to the city of Aspen,” Francis said.Several other business owners were quick to concur with that assessment, as was a CCLC member.”I agree with everybody about the quality of the crafts. I think it lessens the quality of the market,” said Marc Breslin, a commission member. “I think the crafts are a very weak link in the market.”Bill Dinsmoor, chairman of the CCLC, said he was “taken aback” by the criticism of the local craft vendors, but agreed the proposal to relocate the market should be taken off the table in light of merchants’ input.”This is a dead issue. Galena Street ain’t happening,” he said.”OK, I’m convinced. I don’t need to go down this road any farther,” commission member Eric Cohen agreed. “We have our own little Rodeo Drive here, whether we want to admit it or not. You don’t see a farmers market down the middle of Rodeo Drive.”The Aspen Saturday Market runs from mid-June to the end of October.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is