Ready for a Popsicle
June 21, 2002
The city of Aspen has recently made a decision which begs to be overturned by popular demand.
Ever since Peppermint Patty retired and moved to Hawaii, there has been something missing from the summer scene here in Aspen. Having grown up in a town which had Popsicle wagons plying the neighborhoods (never often enough), I feel that Therese Alpern has found and filled a niche.
The tantalizing distant sound of the Popsicle wagon is a bit of Americana which should not be lost in the web of bureaucracy. What a wholesome and healthy approach she has found with her pedal-powered Popsicle wagon! And what delicious irony – selling sweets from an exercise bike. This sets a great example for kids (and adults) – combine treats with exercise.
I was passing the Skate Park several days ago as the Popsicle peddler wheeled in. At first, just a couple of kids noticed her silent and subtle arrival. They were drawn by the cold, sweet and refreshing promise of Fudgesicles, Dream-sicles, Dove Bars and cold lemonade on a hot day.
When she gently rang the rack of melodious bells hanging from the handlebar of the bike, it was like watching a school of fish at sea. No matter the direction, speed or difficulty of their maneuver, almost every skater in the various bowls of concrete, turned and swam as if they had one mind – toward the primal call of the Popsicle bell. Some phenomena are preordained by the laws of nature.
Sorry, but I just don’t see any competition with existing merchants. When people are at a park – watching or participating in sporting events – they are extremely unlikely to leave the event or the activity to walk or drive to Clark’s Market, City Market, Local’s Corner or Carl’s Pharmacy to buy an inexpensive frozen treat.
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If the general availability of convenient, single-serving, inexpensive ($2 to $3), frozen, refreshing treats were great, then yes – the “unfair competition” angle should be examined. If there were city-owned concession stands in direct competition with the Popsicle peddler, then perhaps she should be limited in her access to the immediate area. This is not the case.
The city may find the sales tax generated by this innovative enterprise to be a welcome addition to the city coffers. Our citizens and visitors will certainly be refreshed and charmed by the presence of a delightful example of classic American free enterprise.
I don’t advocate carte blanche granting of vending licenses. The application for a business license was filled out and granted to Therese for her new business. She attempted to jump through the hoops presented by the city of Aspen.
She was told that she had cleared the hurdles and had passed the finish line. Based upon that assurance, she made the necessary investments in her new equipment (Popsicle bike, freezers, etc.). To revoke her license and destroy a well-planned new little business does not make sense in the current atmosphere of worry about our ability to attract tourism.
The Popsicle peddler is a welcome and refreshing addition to the look and feel of Aspen in the summertime.
Looking forward to my next Fudgesicle…