Editorial: Retailers shouldn’t dictate their competition
We realize and appreciate the hard labor and ongoing commitment it takes to make a living as a retail shop owner in downtown Aspen. Rental rates are high, revenues fluctuate with the uncertainties of the tourism seasons and staff turnover can be frequent, among other challenges.
However, hard work and business acumen do not — and should not — translate to exclusivity.
That’s essentially what some retailer operators are seeking from the city of Aspen. At Monday’s City Council meeting, Galerie Maximillian owner Albert Sanford, along with Don Stone, owner of Pierre-Famille jewelry store, said that pop-up retailers and visiting arts and antiques shows are putting a significant dent into their earnings potential.
The problem is exacerbated during the busiest times of the year. For example, the 12th annual Aspen Antiques and Fine Arts Fair was held July 2 to 8, which falls during the peak of Aspen’s summer season. Stone reported to Aspen City Council that he had zero sales that week —all because of the fair that attracted exhibitors not only from Aspen and nearby Colorado towns but London and New York.
Stone suggested that the city should consider not issuing permits to the fair when it hurts local retailers. Rather, he suggested moving the fair to slower times of the year, during the shoulder-seasons of fall or spring.
We urge City Council to take caution if it considers this because of the precedent it would set. Wouldn’t Aspen-based street performers want the same discriminatory treatment extended to out-of-town performers? Should the city also force out children who set up lemonade-and-cookie stands across from eating and drinking establishments in the downtown pedestrian malls?
While we recognize their devotion to serving Aspen clientele on a year-round basis, long-standing retailers shouldn’t be able to dictate when they have competition and when they don’t. In the end, Aspen consumers should be afforded as many choices as possible in what’s supposed to be a free-market society.