The Winter in Aspen & Snowmass Guide to Shopping Local
Safely shop ‘til you drop at these only-in-Aspen stores
For Winter in Aspen & Snowmass
Operating a retail store in a mountain resort town such as Aspen is hard enough with offseasons to contend with, plus elevated rents. Throw in a pandemic and it adds a whole other level of complexity to business.
Luckily the locally owned shops in Aspen, peppered among recognizable big-name brands on storefronts, are a resilient bunch and spent the summer and fall months adjusting to new rules and restrictions put in place due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“What I would say about the summer and fall was that it was unexpectedly OK,” said Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus owner Shae Singer. “I was very thankful that it was as busy as it was.”
Under the majority of Colorado’s various levels of restrictions – ranging from green to purple on the state coronameter – shopping is an approved activity with the proper precautions in place.
Stores in Aspen are operating under capacity limits to aid social distancing, while masks are required for employees and shoppers at all times and increased and extensive cleaning protocols are in place.
“We had a door person to monitor mask-wearing and how many people are in the store (this summer), and we will do that again through the winter,” said David Fleisher, owner of Pitkin County Dry Goods.
Not only does the door person help monitor mask compliance and occupancy levels, they help “educate the customer about what they need to do when they are in the store” to abide by the COVID restrictions in place, Fleisher said.
Like many retailers, Fleisher and his employees plan months ahead for the winter season and this year, because of COVID, he said it felt like planning for a great unknown. Although he has some elevated confidence after a stronger than expected summer and fall season that brought in many first-time customers and more “serious shoppers” as people fled cities for smaller towns like ours.
“That’s what the shocker was,” said Angi Wang, a broker associate with Setterfield & Bright, about the influx of people in Aspen despite pandemic restrictions. “Everyone thought that all of these big events … (were) bringing a ton of people here, but we actually had an increase in population.”
With an increase in the permanent population and visitors flocking to take advantage of the outdoor activities and other amenities, storefronts remain occupied while shopping has become a primary source of entertainment without the mainstay events occurring that Aspen is known for.
“There is sort of a hierarchy of who’s doing relatively well in the country in terms of business anyway,” Fleisher said. “Resorts are number one, they are pretty much doing well everywhere.”
(Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Mom-and-pop stores have always helped give Aspen its charm as an international shopping destination. Support them now and they will still exist alongside the high fashion giants once the pandemic has passed.
“Everything that we do in the store is to create a local experience and to benefit the community,” Singer said of her treasure trove of a store. “We’re not just a retail store, we’re not Wal-Mart, we’re not Amazon. Everything that’s in here benefits locals and benefits our community. We can only exist if people spend money; it could be a dollar or it could be a thousand dollars.”
To help on that quest of supporting local, here are five only-in-Aspen businesses, in no particular order, where you can find a unique shopping experience.
Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus
315 E Main St.
Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus is a hard place to walk by and not want to stop in. This inviting Main Street shop touts itself as “Aspen’s most unique retail experience.” It’s eye-catching with vibrant colors and a yard brimming over with art and fun trinkets. Wandering through the store is like wandering through your loveable and eccentric aunt’s house with something for everyone. Since it’s housed in an old Victorian, only eight people can be inside at a time to abide by social distancing restrictions, but Singer, with the help of a local artist, has created a comfy lounge outside the store as a waiting area for shoppers. For those who would prefer to shop online, the Emporium is adding an online shop featuring its 80 local artists and their hand-crafted goods. Additionally this winter, Singer is introducing “Sinfully Sweet Sundays,” which will highlight local chocolatiers, bakers, jam-makers and more selling their tasty treats.
Pitkin County Dry Goods
520 E. Cooper Ave.
One of Aspen’s longest-standing retail operations, Pitkin County Dry Goods has been dressing the fashionable men and women of Aspen for 51 years (as of Dec. 13). “We’re relatively unique in town at this point in time,” said Fleisher about his stores continued popularity, “particularly in men’s. There is not that much competition in men’s, but women’s too in that we’re a … multi-brand store and there aren’t that many of us left anywhere in the country, let alone Aspen.” The store’s inventory of fashionable (yet mountain functional) clothes and accessories can outfit you from head to toe.
Susie’s Limited Consignment
600 E Main St #8
Want to revamp your winter wardrobe without emptying your wallet? Susie’s Limited Consignment has amassed a following among locals and visitors over the past 30 years for their high-quality items and constantly rotating inventory (items remain in the shop for only 45 days). And with the Aspen Thrift Shop closed until further notice – shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic – Susie’s is one of the only places in town taking clothing donations right now (one bag a day per person and all items must be clean and folded). Owner Susie Harvey credits “our wonderful consignors” as one of the reasons the store is so popular. “They’re great because they have gorgeous clothing, they like to turn over their wardrobes a lot.” Harvey also credits the “cozy” and “clean” atmosphere of her store along with the friendly and dedicated employees. “A lot of our visitors come back to our store every single year … and we’re happy to have them!”
Amen Wardy Home
625 E Main St.
If you’ve seen people wandering around town with brightly colored leopard print bags and wondered what shop those came from and what’s inside, here’s your answer: Amen Wardy Home. Exclusive to Aspen, the store has established itself as a boutique to find distinctive tableware perfect for an Aspen-style dinner party and hostess gifts among other decor. The store is working on establishing an online shop for those wary of shopping in-person but still wanting to support a local business.
306 E Main St.
It might seem strange to include a pharmacy on a list about only-in-Aspen shopping experiences, but Carl’s offers a small-town charm that other drug stores do not. While the whole store is packed with necessities, we’re specifically talking about the upstairs of Carl’s, where every corner is jam-packed with goodies perfect for a last-minute stocking stuffer or school and art supplies to help when home-schooling from the hotel room. Think of it like an extremely mini Target, a one-stop shop to everything you never knew you needed. It’s pretty much always the answer to the question, “Where in Aspen do you think I could find ___?”
on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Despite the continued uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus, retailers have confidence in Aspen and are showing it by opening shops in town this winter. Here’s a roundup of new retailers and galleries opening in winter 2020-21.
Golden Goose, 430 E. Hyman Ave.
You’ve probably spotted a pair of Golden Goose shoes on many an Aspenite around town and now the brand, which also sells clothes, is finally opening a location of their own here.
Chrome Hearts, 208 S. Mill St.
A Los Angeles-based luxury silver and leather brand.
Honor Frasier Gallery, 525 E. Hyman Ave.
This Los Angeles-based gallery is opening a pop-up for the winter season in Aspen showcasing work by Kenny Scharf.
Galeria Mascota, 631 E. Durant Ave.
Located inside The Little Nell, this Mexico City-based gallery is expanding its reach stateside and slopeside with this pop-up that will be open through April.
Ba&sh, 228 S. Mill St.
A women’s clothing store that’s currently slated just as a pop-up, but there is the possibility it could extend its Aspen stay.
Eden Gallery. 534 E. Cooper Ave.
With two flagship galleries in New York City, Eden Gallery has added Aspen to its list of locations showcasing pop and contemporary art.
Nick Fouquet, 525 E. Hyman Ave.
This Aspen location marks the popular hat makers return to Colorado; he lived in the state prior to settling in California and starting his hat-making business.
Wyld Blue, 210 S. Galena St.
A storefront for luxury vintage label Morphew, sourcing pieces from the past that fit in with contemporary trends
Angels & Outlaws, 402 S. Galena St.
Cowboy hats, boots and glammed-up, resort-friendly Western wear
Alicia Adams Alpaca, 601 E. Hyman Ave.
As the name implies, Alicia Adams Alpaca is all things alpaca for the home (bedding, throws, etc.) and for the closet (sweaters, scarfs, sweatpants, etc.)
Kate Maller Jewelry, 525 E. Cooper Ave.
Originally from Denver, the store is opening an Aspen location to show off and, of course, sell unique and handcrafted jewelry.
Giorgio Armani, 521 E. Hyman Ave.
The world-famous designer has opened a winter only pop-up, here through March, themed after a high-alpine ski chalet.
Patrick Guyton Gallery, 413 E. Hyman Ave.
The gallery will feature work from its namesake, who creates contemporary art using gold and silver leaf techniques.
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The Aspen Music Festival’s Harris Hall recitals and “Met: Live in HD” broadcasts will run in February and March, with tickets on sale Thursday, Jan. 27.