New push for moving Saturday Market | AspenTimes.com
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New push for moving Saturday Market

Kimberly Nicoletti

The last time someone proposed moving the Saturday Market to the downtown mall, merchants didn’t show much interest.”It wasn’t even a lead balloon. It just never got off the ground,” City Manager Steve Barwick said.Now, Commercial Core and Lodging Commission members want to reconsider moving the Saturday Market from the intersection of Hopkins Avenue and Hunter Street to the pedestrian malls and adjoining streets.The Saturday Market is an open-air market that brings farmers and merchants to town to sell their wares. It has become one of Aspen’s most popular summer draws, attracting throngs of shoppers each week from June through October.In December 2004, business owners rejected the first proposal to move, for emotional reasons, said commission Chairman Bill Dinsmoor. But he said no one ever presented a comprehensive investigation on the benefits and risks of moving the event.Merchant concerns still include direct competition from market vendors and the loss of parking spaces near stores, which some think would prevent customers from shopping.The number of customers at Chepita already drops off on Saturdays, and moving the market closer to the store would worsen the situation, said manager Nick Russo. The jewelry that vendors sell directly competes with Chepita’s jewelry, he said. Russo pointed out that the city shouldn’t subsidize vendors that compete with businesses that pay city taxes.”On the flip side, it could be an asset to have because people really look forward to the market and it’s more challenging to find in its current location,” said Lisa Weiss, Aspen Chamber Resort Association marketing director. “We may need a middle ground – to open it up so retailers could have a street presence.”Commissioner Mark Goodman brought up the possibility of moving the event at Wednesday’s meeting, but the commission won’t push it. Dinsmoor said a change would come only from a petition from the business community.”It’s frustrating to us that there’s no mechanism to do this,” Dinsmoor said at the meeting.However, three of the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission members also sit on the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s board and are in position to apprise chamber President Debbie Braun of Goodman’s proposal. From there, the chamber might survey its members and, based on feedback, take a stand on the issue. The ACRA’s board meets at the end of the month.Kimberly Nicoletti’s e-mail address is knicoletti@aspentimes.com


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