Thrift Shop hopes to keep its locale |

Thrift Shop hopes to keep its locale

One of Aspen’s most revered social institutions, The Thrift Shop, was assured on Monday that the City Council is firmly committed to finding a way to keep the secondhand shop downtown.

But it may not be in the spot the shop has occupied for the last 18 years.

The Thrift Shop is a 53-year-old local institution that takes in used clothing, housewares, skis and other goods, and resells them at prices far below those found at Aspen’s privately owned, for-profit consignment shops.

But the shop’s true mission is to hand out more than $200,000 a year to local charities and other worthy causes.

The shop is located next to the Aspen fire station on Hopkins Avenue, tucked in next to the Zele coffee shop.

Attorney Tim McFlynn, representing The Thrift Shop, on Monday asked the council to renew the lease for shop’s premises for 99 years. The shop operates out of building constructed by the nonprofit organization itself at a cost of roughly $100,000, but the building sits on public land.

The Thrift Shop moved into its building in 1982 with a 20-year lease, McFlynn said, but that lease expires in June 2001.

McFlynn said the organization recently spent about $20,000 for “improvements” at the building, and is about to spend another $20,000 or so. But before that happens, McFlynn said, the organization wants some assurances that it can stay where it is and enjoy the fruits of its work for a good, long time.

“It has to be in the commercial core of town so it can function,” he told the City Council at its informal brown bag luncheon meeting.

And a 99-year lease, he said, would firmly establish The Thrift Shop as “an essential community facility.”

Everyone on the council agreed that the shop performs a needed and invaluable service, and that it should retain its quasi-public status.

But the city is currently going through a planning process for what is known as the “civic center,” covering the various government buildings and properties on either side of Main Street. And that plan, according to City Manager Steve Barwick, may result in changes that include the relocation of The Thrift Shop.

“Right now there’s no thought of changing that [the shop’s location],” Barwick hurriedly assured the council and the group of Thrift Shop supporters in the room. “But it may come out of that plan.”

But, as Mayor Rachel Richards noted, “That’s the right site for The Thrift Shop,” and the organization should always “remain a component of whatever goes on there.”

City staffers will work on a new lease for The Thrift Shop that satisfies its operators’ desire for a sense of permanence in their current location, but does not necessarily lock the city in to a century-long lease.

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