Retailers package the holiday cheer |

Retailers package the holiday cheer

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen retailers have been busier than Santa’s elves, organizing a bundle of holiday cheer for downtown shoppers in the days leading up to Christmas.

The Aspen Retail Merchants Association met last week to iron out plans for the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, when downtown merchants plan to stay open late and serve refreshments on Friday, Nov. 29. They experimented with the late-night shopping spree last summer and deemed it a success, said Barry Gordon, who organized the association.

For Christmas, local merchants will again keep their doors open until 10 p.m. on several nights, but that’s not all.

On Dec. 21-23, the group has arranged for two or three Santas to wander about town and has arranged to bring in some reindeer that Gordon said he hopes can be displayed in a pen near Wagner Park.

Two or three groups of wandering carolers will offer the sounds of the season and roasting corn kernels on an outdoor fire should provide a tempting aroma, Gordon said. “It has the same feel of roasting chestnuts,” he said.

Free hayrides around town throughout the afternoon and evening are also planned.

“When a visitor comes, they’re getting something they never expected that is fun,” said Gordon. “They go back and tell their friends how much fun it was.

“That word of mouth is more valuable than a world of advertising.”

Gordon organized the merchants association last summer to give retailers a cohesive voice and create a group dedicated to action rather than discussion about how to revitalize downtown Aspen.

“Here, in four hours, we did something that would have taken the city six months of conversation,” he declared after last Thursday’s meeting of roughly 30 merchants.

The association’s annual membership fee is $100. So far, the group has about 50 members, including retailers, some restaurateurs and individuals, according to Gordon.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is]

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