Two Old Hippies decides to split the Aspen scene
August 12, 2013
Two Old Hippies, purveyor of guitars, apparel and all sorts of groovy stuff, plans to close its Monarch Street store by mid-September.
Owner Molly Bedell said it's been a fun 41/2-year run in Aspen. She and her husband, Tom, want to concentrate on their Tennessee operation — which is much larger than the founding store in Aspen — as well as potential growth opportunities in other markets. The 8,000-square-foot shop in the The Gulch, a trendy Nashville arts district, opened nearly two years ago.
"It's definitely bittersweet," Molly Bedell said Wednesday. "I've lived in Aspen since 1982. We opened in Nashville, and seeing how well it's done in a year-round demographic and a musically inclined community has just been incredible. Unfortunately, Aspen is not a year-round destination."
The Aspen store's lease expires at the end of the year, which played a role in the decision, although Bedell said the value and terms of her lease have been very reasonable.
"It didn't make sense to continue on," she said. "We're not a big corporate company like a lot of the stores in Aspen that have other sister stores to support them. We could have stayed here, but we chose to focus on a place where we can really grow."
Last year, the Bedells put their property in the Fryingpan Valley, Peace Ranch, up for sale. The asking price for the 600-acre, five-home compound is $49.5 million.
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"We have family and friends and roots here," Molly Bedell said. "But we mostly live in Nashville now. It's just time for a change."
The Aspen store, at 1,100 square feet, has done well — albeit in a slow way, she said.
"We haven't gone backwards," Bedell said. "But I think there's a different client that's coming to Aspen now, and they like the chain stores. That's just not who we are. The retail environment in Aspen has changed quite a bit."
The company touts itself as more than just a retail operation, espousing a way of life. Its website states, "Two Old Hippies is inspired by the values of our generation, steeped in the beliefs that we are one human race, that all living things have equal value and purpose, that we have stewardship responsibility for our Mother Earth, and that the more love we give — the more we get!"
In recent years, the Aspen store has sponsored singer-songwriter performances and shown films such as The Beatles' animated feature "Yellow Submarine." The Nashville shop has an in-house live-music venue with more room for people to check out the artists.
"Nashville has really embraced us because we brought something really unique to the town," Bedell said. "We have a lot of community support and repeat business."
Ian Fellerman, who has been the "guitar guru" at Two Old Hippies in Aspen for the past four years, will be relocating to Nashville. A Massachusetts native, Fellerman is a songwriter, musician and leader of the band Bashful Hips.
"I'm very excited about working in the Nashville store," Fellerman said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity and the challenges. It's going to be great living in the music capital of the world."
The Monarch Street shop has three other employees who plan to remain in the Aspen area, Bedell said.
The Bedells started their unique enterprise in late 2008 in the former location of The Great Divide, also a guitar shop. Two Old Hippies' departure will leave Aspen without a music store.