Chains choke Aspen’s soul
I am writing my comments as a 43-year resident of Aspen and as a lodge manager for 33 years.
In my profession as general manager of Aspen Mountain Lodge, I interact with many, many guests. One comment I repeatedly hear is that “Aspen has lost its charm.” Specifically, these guests are referring to the brand-new buildings, which seem out of character for Aspen, and the very, very expensive chain stores occupying those buildings.
One guest commented, “I live in a high-rise on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and if I wanted to shop at Gucci, Prada, Zegna, etc., I simply could have stayed home. My family comes to Aspen for a different kind of experience — a unique experience, which seems to be slowly disappearing.”
Based upon the hundreds of opinions I have heard on this subject, I am taking a position strongly against the proliferation of chain stores, which are squeezing the life out of our mountain town.
These chain stores I refer to can pay exorbitant rents because the parent corporation uses its Aspen operation as a showcase advertisement for its products. The Aspen outlet’s loss is written off by the parent corporation, which has vast financial resources compared with a local Aspen business.
This process puts tremendous pressure on rents, which in turn stresses out local businesses, many of which have gone out of business as a result.
Thus, for all of the above reasons, I support the concept of limiting chain stores in Aspen.
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