Olson: Going for locals first
At 70, I’ve had amazing life experiences — climbing Half Dome, co-founding a charter school for 3,000 students. Now a first: being publicly accused of greed as a local business owner.
I’d like to respectfully set the record straight. Since we opened Local Coffee, every dollar has gone into the business, the space, the employees, our customers, and hundreds of community programs offered to the public.
The investing owners have not taken a penny of profit or salary. The two younger owners spent hundreds of hours building the business for a barely living wage. Truly-local coffee shops, not subsidized by a larger company, are labors of love.
So is Here House, designed for inclusion, not profits.
A very successful Aspen landlord gave a local talk in 2017. His insightful message: To survive in Aspen commercial spaces, you must sell items for $5,000, not $50, to cover the rents.
So, we understand why there was so much enthusiasm when we recently considered partnering with a restaurateur even though it would mean curtailing Local hours and offerings. The talks fell apart after too much talk of $800 bottles of wine and private-jet clients.
We knew there was a better way to preserve Local Coffee for the long term and truly serve locals in an inclusive, innovative, and sustainable way — a more meaningful way, making sure locals feel they come first, no matter what other changes come to Aspen.