Editorial: Why did Related kick Village Market to the curb?
October 8, 2013
Editor's note: This editorial originally appeared in The Aspen Times on Sept. 27.
By replacing Village Market in the Snowmass Center with Clark's Market, we believe that Related is fixing something that isn't broke and alienating the community, whose trust it greatly needs now with Base Village approvals coming down the pipeline.
Related Colorado President Dwayne Romero said the two grocers were asked what they could do to improve customers' experience in the space and that Clark's presented the most creative ideas. If Village Market had been offering a bad experience, that would make sense, but most Snowmass Village residents agree that the customer service and products at Village Market were already outstanding.
Village Market employees often remember shoppers by name. If a line gets more than two people long, another cashier is called to the front. They keep the shelves clean and stocked with high-quality products, and if you need something they don't have, they'll order it for you.
Many Snowmass Villagers will tell you they don't do their major grocery shopping there because it's pricey, but so is Clark's. Like the rest of the Snowmass Center, it was a place to go for convenience and to run into some familiar faces.
Village Market could have abused its monopoly by offering low-grade products and poor customer service in exchange for those high prices, but it didn't. Romero said the rents proposed by the grocers weren't that different. We're left wondering what the real reason for this decision was.
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To be fair, we commend Related for going with another family-owned business with a strong valley presence, particularly one with a good track record for retaining current employees at stores it acquires. However, Clark's will be closing its location in Basalt when its lease ends there next summer, and we are concerned about Clark's ability to offer jobs for employees of both stores.
We understand that Related is a bottom-line business. However, this is a business that has lost the trust of the community in the past. It has worked hard to regain it and even sought to lease to other local businesses. But it is not listening to the people on this one. And with all the turnover that has occurred with Snowmass Village businesses the past few years, this is one change that was not necessary.
Representatives of Related have said that it will come before the town Planning Commission and subsequently the council with a proposal for a major amendment to the planned-unit development of Base Village before the end of this year. Snowmass' elected officials and their constituents are playing much more cautiously these days in light of the halt in Base Village construction during the recession. Related would be wise to keep that in mind.
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