New retail association needs staying power |

New retail association needs staying power

Aspen, CO Colorado

The recent formation of the Aspen Retail Association isn’t the first attempt at organizing such a lobbying arm. At least two other retail associations have been formed in the last decade or so, only to fall by the wayside when the movement’s momentum waned.

So, based on history alone, we’re not so convinced the latest incarceration of an organized retail movement will be around in the next few years. But for the sake of our downtown economy and vitality, we hope it is.

Last month, the retail association formed after downtown business operators felt they weren’t getting the representation they wanted from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. That, combined with the recession, prompted them to form their own group, which they hope will wield some clout with the city, ACRA and the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission.

If the Aspen Retail Association has its desired effect, it will bring a voice that has been clearly missing from discussions about how downtown is operated.

Retailers have often bemoaned what they feel is a city government that over-regulates downtown businesses, from its crackdowns on outdoor sales racks, to the size of window signs, to paid parking.

There are times when their grips seem legitimate. But they carry much more clout when they have an organized voice, rather than some shop-owner belly-aching about going through layers of bureaucracy in order to set up an outdoor sales rack.

Ultimately, the Aspen Retail Association’s goal should be to bring more business downtown. And when that happens, just based on sales tax collections alone, everybody in Aspen benefits ” either directly or indirectly.

We only hope they stick around for the foreseeable future.