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Saturday market staying put

Janet Urquhart

The Aspen Saturday Market will apparently stay put after a roomful of downtown retailers today panned a proposal to move it closer to the center of town.

More than a dozen business owners told the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission to leave the weekly summertime market where it is. And some criticized the sale of “crappy crafts” in Aspen, regardless of the event’s location.

The CCLC had floated the idea of moving the market from its block of Hopkins and block of Hunter to a block of Hyman Avenue and a section of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue. The latest plan called for vendors on both sides of Hyman, between Hunter and Galena, as well as booths spaced out along Galena and rounding the curve onto Cooper. The goal was to bring the crowds closer to the pedestrian malls and the core shopping area, and allow a couple of adjacent restaurants to serve the crowd with outdoor dining.

“Why screw up something that already works?” asked David Fleisher, owner of Pitkin County Dry Goods on Cooper Avenue.

“To take away parking for our consumers … is very devastating for all of us, added Becky Dumeresque, owner of Chequers and co-owner of Restaurant Mogador. “I really don’t think you have an idea about what you’re about to cause.”

The shoppers at the market aren’t necessarily the same individuals who frequent the high-end boutiques on Galena and Cooper, merchants complained. They saw no benefit to bringing the market to their front doors.

A number of retailers believe the market negatively impacts store traffic on Saturdays, said one store owner.

“I think the quality of the Saturday market is embarassing to the city of Aspen,” he added. The event has deteriorated with the addition of local crafts vendors, he said, calling the market “a civic embarassment.”

Several other business owners were quick to agree with that assessment, as was one CCLC member.

The commission, however, got the message and dropped its plan to pitch relocation of the market to the City Council. The market appears likely to remain it its traditional location next year.

“This is a dead issue. Galena Street ain’t happening,” said Bill Dinsmoor, a local restaurant owner and chairman of the CCLC.

For more details on today’s debate, see Thursday’s Aspen Times.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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