Shop till you drop in Aspen
December 30, 2008
ASPEN ” The Roaring Fork Valley, and particularly Aspen, are a shopper’s paradise ” a banquet of everything from haute couture to bargain basics.
The very mention of Aspen conjures up visions of overpriced real estate and exclusive high-end retail, and for good reason. The town is home to some of the world’s finest designers, including Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Burberry. And during high seasons like Christmas and New Year’s or the busy summer months, it’s not uncommon to bump into famous Hollywood players wandering the racks of local stores.
But the city is not just “handbag museums” with shoulder adornments fetching prices in the thousands; Aspen has a surprisingly diverse array of stores from the Gap and longtime local favorite Pitkin County Dry Goods, to Ralph Lauren and Roots.
On a budget and looking for some good Aspenite cast-offs? Stop into the town’s little recycled-goods store, The Thrift Shop at 312 E. Hyman, next door to the Wheeler Opera House (its temporary location while a new store is being built). Or check out Susie’s (623 E. Hopkins, 920-2376), which has expanded to include home furnishings in addition to a plentiful, ever-changing supply of new and gently used clothing. Aspen’s newest consignment store, Uptown Exchange (517 E. Hopkins, 925-9818) adds even more vitality to the hunt for great bargains.
And, for the place that has everything ” liquor, underwear, toys, CDs, art supplies, baby clothes, sewing essentials, cosmetics, magazines and much, much more, head for Carl’s Pharmacy at the corner of Main and Monarch streets. Be sure to check out the jam-packed second floor. Carl’s is a key to local life in Aspen. It has everything. Really.
Aspen’s best and only true toy store is Shorts Sport (920-3195), located in the Aspen Square Hotel building on Cooper Avenue. The shop’s knowledgeable staff and its selection of fun and educational toys make it popular with parents. The only pressure to make a purchase will come from your kids.
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Aspen is a great town to pick up outdoor essentials. The Ute Mountaineer (925-2849), across from Wagner Park, carries an extensive collection of outdoor gear, clothing and footwear and also offers a wide assortment of books, maps and other information about outdoor sports in the surrounding mountains.
Aspen boasts more than 20 ski shops for rentals and sales. Longtime shops like Aspen Sports (925-6331), newly remodeled and on the Cooper Avenue mall since 1953, Pomeroy Sports on Durant Street (925-7875), or Gorsuch, Ltd. (920-9388), at the base of the gondola on Aspen Mountain, are among the many that can get a visito geared up for the slopes, down to micro-fitting ski boots and tuning skis.
Kemo Sabe (925-7878) is the best spot to “go Western” and pick up a cowboy hat to sport along the streets of Aspen. Or stop in to wander through Curious George (925-3315), a “curious” collection of Western duds, silver jewelry and oddities. The shop has moved from its old, familiar spot on the Hyman Avenue Mall to a new one on the corner of the mall and Mill Street.
The always-popular Boogie’s (925-6111) has become a local institution on Cooper Avenue. But, it’s not just a place to pick up a pair of designer jeans, shoes or a bag ” its upstairs diner-style restaurant is also a family-friendly place to chow down on some of the best (and most affordable) eats in Aspen.
Aspen’s well-heeled visitors with deep pockets have spawned a rich gallery culture. From cowboy-themed kitsch to antiques dating back to Aspen’s mining days, to world-class fine-art collections, browsing through the town’s more than 20 galleries is good sport. Busy Cooper Street or the city’s walking malls are your best chance to browse the kind of art and collectibles that line the walls of Aspen’s many resort homes. For a fun way to sample Aspen’s galleries, try the weekly ArtWalk, sponsored by Aspen Sojourner, that takes place the first Thursday of each month, December through May.
Are you looking for that “How’s your Aspen?” T-shirt for the folks back home? Stop in to one of the many busy T-shirt shops along Durant Avenue near Aspen Mountain or on the Hyman Avenue Mall.
And no visit to Aspen is complete without an afternoon or evenings spent at Explore Bookstore and Bistro (925-5336), a hip, old bookshop on Main Street with a rich selection of books, nooks and crannies with comfortable seating areas and cozy, upstairs organic restaurant ” the only vegetarian restaurant in Aspen.
While Aspen is out-of-reach for most mortal wallets, shopping in nearby Basalt offers more reasonable options.
As the gateway to the Fryingpan River area, Basalt is a world-renowned fly-fishing destination. Stop in at Frying Pan Anglers (927-3441) on Highway 82, or Taylor Creek Fly Shop (927-3474), located on the Fryingpan, to pick up the necessary gear, advice or a guide. And while you’re at the Basalt roundabout, don’t miss a visit to the newly-remodeled Bristlecone Mountain Sports (927-1492) which carries men’s and women’s clothing, outwear, shoes and outdoor gear, from skis, boards, cross-country gear and snowshoes to hats, books, freeze-dried snacks and other essentials.
Midland Avenue, Basalt’s main street and town center, is lined with interesting and affordable retailers, including the popular Town Center Booksellers (927-2665), Midland Clothing Company (927-9542) and gift shops like Express Yourself (927-2533) or Susan’s Flowers and Gifts (927-3551). Midland Shoes (927-0902) is a great place to pick up footwear for the winter season.
Like Aspen, Basalt is home to a plentiful gallery culture. Don’t miss the fine handcrafted items and Zapotec Indian rugs at Toklat Gallery (927-1437) on Midland Avenue along the Fryingpan River or visit Keating Fine Art (927-0927), also on Midland.
Carbondale continues its evolution as an art and restaurant center and the town is home to funky crystal shops and New Age outlets in the old town center. Carbondale also boasts a growing number of galleries including Roadside Gallery (963-9333) and Kahhak Fine Arts and School (704-0622), both on Main Street.
Glenwood Springs offers Roaring Fork Valley residents many options for making their staple purchases at the “big box” retailers ” Wal-Mart, Target and Lowes. But Glenwood also is home to many small and eclectic gift shops like the Watersweeper and the Dwarf (945-2000) at the bottom of Grand Avenue and women’s boutiques like Mona Lisa (945-0990) on 7th and Confetti Design (945-8830) on Grand Avenue.
Factory Army Surplus (945-7796) is a great little Glenwood find (on Highway 82 just west of town). It’s a popular place to gear up for life in the mountains ” with everything from tools to long underwear and rugged outerwear. And Summit Canyon Mountaineering (945-6994) downtown on Grand Avenue is where to pick up every type of outdoor gear from backpacks, snowshoes, skis, snowboards and tents, to maps, books, shoes and indoor and outdoor wear.