`The times are changing’ | AspenTimes.com

`The times are changing’

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

After 112 years, Aspen Drug will close its doors for good on Saturday.

But it’s not going quietly.

For the past six weeks, a consultant firm has helped the store close up shop, featuring the sale of everything including the shelves and a heated prize contest waged between a number of locals.

Brian Day of G.A. Wright Inc. makes a business of closing up shop all over the country; in his seven years with the Denver-based marketing company he estimates he’s closed 34 stores in 20 states. He said Aspen Drug is probably the oldest business he’s closed. In second place was a hardware store in Michigan that was 100 years old.

“When you close a business, the place empties out and you hear more echoes and the place looks bigger,” Day said.

That’s certainly true of Aspen Drug, where the store once chock full of Aspen-themed keepsakes, greeting cards and candy now hosts empty shelves, a lonely bottle of shampoo, some cough syrup and three packages of looseleaf paper. Everything for sale today and tomorrow is going for 75 percent off – ridiculously low prices by Aspen standards.

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Aspen Drug co-owner Jeanne Woods said she and her husband, store manager Randy Woods, have discovered ornate woodwork and mirrors at the back of the store that until recently were covered up by shelves of toiletries.

“Some people visiting have stopped by to tell us that they’re surprised we’re closing, but they don’t understand that we don’t have enough business in the off-season to support ourselves,” Jeanne Woods said. “And in season, we’re the only business open on the mall past 6 p.m. The times are changing.”

Day has helped the Woods determine when to discount which merchandise, and how best to keep the pharmacy up and running right up until the day the store closes. But most noticeably, he’s running an aggressive prize contest, based on getting locals into the shop to collect points for prizes like televisions, stereos and DVD players.

Contestants bring in letters mailed to their homes for points and recruit friends to stop in and garner more points. Day said the contest is one of the best advertising tools, causing hype for a closing sale even in tiny towns like Chesaning, Mich., population 2,500.

At Aspen Drug, 20 locals are on a list of diehards who have faithfully competed for prizes for weeks.

“We take care of closing in an orderly fashion that leaves a good feeling in the community,” Day said. “The owners can enjoy helping clients because, frankly, who knows how to go out of business properly?”

A group of investors has leased the space, although they have not decided what will go in the shop in the future. Until Saturday, Day notes that there may not be anything but some stray Chap Stick and nail polish left in the store, but clerks still have dog biscuits to give to visiting pooches.