Guest commentary: Think outside the big box, shop local over the Aspen holidays |

Guest commentary: Think outside the big box, shop local over the Aspen holidays

Eliza Voss
Guest Commentary

Dear Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley,

This holiday season, Aspen Chamber Resort Association encourages you to shop small. As an extension of our 7908 Reasons to Spend Local campaign, we invite you to shop local and make a big impact on our community. Shopping small can mean a number of different things this year; shop small towns, shop small businesses, and due to COVID-19, shop in small groups to avoid increased gathering size.

On the subject of COVID-19, we urge you to do your holiday shopping early to accommodate for capacity restrictions and the impact that has on our stores. ACRA will run our campaign Friday through Dec. 12 and promote the ability to think outside the “big box” and purchase your holiday gifts at one of your favorite local retailers.

Here are just a few ideas to spark your “shop local” experience: Take your lunch break to walk around the shops and discover unique and affordable gift options right here at home. Get creative and think about gifting local artwork from the Red Brick Gallery or the Aspen Chapel Gallery. Experiences are the new “things,” so think about gifting a guided fly-fishing excursion or an avalanche-safety course to your nephew who is going to be around more often since college is remote. For the person who has it all, nothing says “I’m thinking about you” more than a donation to their favorite nonprofit organization.

At ACRA, we are thinking local when pitching media with an Aspen-centric gift box featuring woman-owned local businesses, and we will surprise our board members with ACES’ new book “The Hidden Life Around Us.” I personally have begun my holiday shopping and was delighted to get my mom a nice felt hat from Misstyx and happened upon a board game that is absolutely perfect for my sister’s boyfriend at Aspen Eclectic.

The impact of shopping local on our community is meaningful. Said Bob Wade, longtime owner with his wife Ruth of the Ute Mountaineer, “We hope that you will consider shopping locally this season. Particularly in this challenging time with COVID-19 we ask to earn your business. Your support is powerful; dollars spent locally contribute to local infrastructure, filling potholes, maintaining open space, providing social services and the like. Local businesses invest in their communities at a rate three times greater than big boxes or e-retailers. We add interest and diversity to the landscape of Aspen’s core while providing employment for our locals — your friends and neighbors. And you will buy the right things because we are the experts on all things Aspen. Small business in Aspen so appreciates your visits.”

As part of the campaign, ACRA is creating gift guides to inspire ideas, collecting and promoting any holiday-centric shopping experiences being offered, and getting the word out so we can change the way we think about shopping locally. (Visit for ideas and resources including the ability to shop local online.) From Carl’s to Gorsuch, there is a variety of price points within each store, and the gifts you choose locally will be unique and memorable, while having the benefit of personal fulfillment by knowing you have made a positive impact on your community. Remember, getting it now is even better than free two-day shipping!

Shop small this holiday season.

Eliza Voss is director of marketing at Aspen Chamber Resort Association.