Shop shuffle continues
Aspen Times Staff Writer
It’s the time of year when businesses are in flux in Aspen, clearing out or arriving in time for the winter season, and swapping storefronts in the blink of an eye.
Nowhere is that more apparent this season than in the Aspen Grove building at 545 Cooper Avenue. Italian eatery Trattoria Toscana closed for good a week ago, leaving a large empty space in one corner of the building’s courtyard. Around the corner Hyde Park jewelers have cleared out their storefront in order to set up shop in Phoenix.
The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is about to leave its corner location after 21 years for a new space on the Cooper Avenue mall.
But there are plans in the works for the empty stores: in the former Hyde Park location, the shop’s former manager, Robin Smith, will open Meridian jewelers, along with husband Kenny and Aspen second-home owners Laurence Fink and Donald Drapkin.
And the former Chocolate Factory location will house an Enstrom’s Almond Toffee shop; it will be only the fourth storefront in the state for the Grand Junction-based candy and ice cream company.
“It’s the time of year when businesses play musical chairs,” said Karen Setterfield, who has worked with local commercial real estate for years.
She should know about musical chairs. As a co-owner with the Aspen Luggage Co., she and partner Galen Bright recently closed their storefront in the Stein Eriksen building next door to Aspen Grove to run a business office in an upstairs unit.
Aspen Luggage’s former location on Cooper Avenue is next door to the newly emptied-out shops in Aspen Grove, though soon it will become the new location for Joan Boyce jewelers.
Smith said it bothers her that many businesses cannot afford to stay in storefronts due to high rent – especially when she sees her neighbors closing or moving. Aspen Grove building owner Frank Woods could not be reached for comment.
“There’s no question that rents are high, and I’ll really miss Toscana,” she said. “You have to make a lot of money to stay here, but it’s the best real estate in town. I’m very optimistic about how we are all going to do in Aspen Grove.”
In just a few weeks the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory will take its trademark big stuffed bear to 401 E. Cooper, on the mall’s corner unit next to McDonald’s. Manager Jess Granger said the layout of the new space near Wagner Park should give them room to expand.
“We’re very excited about having this store where we can use the space more efficiently,” Granger said. The Chocolate Factory should open in its new location by the second week of November, she said.
Enstrom’s co-owner Jamee Simons said Aspen will be the company’s first resort-town location.
“We’re really excited, and it’s a great location,” Simons said. “By mid-November after doing some remodeling, we’d like to be in there selling our candy and ice cream.”
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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