Retail diversity critical to Snowmass |

Retail diversity critical to Snowmass

Dear Editor:The Roaring Fork Valley has a tremendous amount to offer the tourist. Our family has been visiting Aspen/Snowmass and Basalt for over 20 years. We come to hike/bike/fish/ski and generally soak up the beauty of this valley. We also come to shop. No trip is complete without time spent shopping in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt. What is cool and unique about this destination is the diversity of all the independent stores mixed in with the glamour stores. The retail diversity sets this resort apart. With that in mind, I was dismayed to see the giant Four Mountain Sports rental facility in the Snowmass Village Mall. It’s obvious that ski rental income is a critical success component for many of the independent stores in the mall. These stores are used to competition, but this new facility seems to be different. The Skico has a natural competitive advantage by bundling rentals with lift ticket sales and lessons.This bundling and the sheer size of this new facility are sure to drain rental business from the other ski shops in the mall. One has to wonder if they will survive this onslaught. Does the Skico’s long-term plan include a lot of empty storefronts in the mall?As visitors, are very excited about the new Base Village and by all the on-mountain investments the Skico is making. We understand, however, that the Base Village development plan limits retail diversity by allowing only one store of any type.Other resorts offer natural beauty and abundant outdoor activities. The Skico must realize that this valley’s retail diversity is a big competitive advantage. Why then are they implementing a strategy to drive that diversity out? It seems very shortsighted. Any revenue gains made by this new rental facility can only be lost long term, as your retail diversity is driven out, and this coolest of resorts becomes indistinguishable from the pack.The Skico should instead be doing everything it can to insure that the independent retailers succeed and continue to draw people into their ticket booths, lessons and real estate opportunities. Pat McMahonFairfield, Iowa

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