Marolt: Chickens and eggs lining up at the gates? Not so much |

Marolt: Chickens and eggs lining up at the gates? Not so much

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

Which comes first, the tourist or the shopping? That’s the question for the Town Trying to Become a City of Snowmass Village (yes, we have identity issues, but that’s beside this point), and a really hard one to answer, at that. The question is so similar to the age-old one that has been asked since the beginning of poaching, boiling and frying and we should probably look at how it has been addressed and apply what we have learned from it to our own situation. If we answer that question, we answer the Base Village conundrum.

So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Fortunately, we know the answer, which is — we don’t know. We don’t know! The egg could have evolved from an amoeba and then gotten bored with the process and suddenly hatched itself, or God might have just plopped a chicken in the woods and called it good. We don’t know.

This dearth of usable knowledge leaves us to look at other successful resorts to see how they evolved and came up with the right mix of tourist accommodations and shops. Fortunately, we have a friendly neighbor nine miles to the slightly southeast — whose name we once adopted as part of ours until we became an emancipated minor resort all on our own — that has become the model of mountain resort success.

Love it or hate or just don’t think much about it, it’s Aspen and it once went through what we are struggling with at Baseless Snowmass Village now, albeit happened there almost instantaneously and we are two? three? four? decades into the process, I don’t know.

The truth is that Aspen is our gorgeous and charming stepsister and we are the wholesomely pretty, modestly dressed, orphaned second-cousin, taken into Aspen’s home to do the cooking, laundry and cleaning.

The thing about Aspen is nobody can tell you which came first, the tourist or the shops, there either. It was a photo-beginning. To the naked observer, which were more numerous there than you think in the 1960s, it appeared to happen all at once. That doesn’t help us much.

The interesting thing about Aspen, though, is that it didn’t appear to want either chickens or eggs; or turkeys and boutiques, as the case may be. In fact they waged a war against both, with battles continuing to flare up on a regular basis today. There might be something to playing hard to get, but I wouldn’t know about that. I never possessed the natural gifts necessary to exercise that option.

And this brings me to my point: Aspen is not our ugly stepsister and we are not Cinderella. The truth is that Aspen is our gorgeous and charming stepsister and we are the wholesomely pretty, modestly dressed, orphaned second-cousin, taken into Aspen’s home to do the cooking, laundry and cleaning. Sorry. If you don’t believe me, just look in the mirror.

With that revelation, we can now see that the real question for us is not about focusing on getting tourists or shopping opportunities here one before the other. If we really believe we have a choice in that, we are more delusional than mice driving a pumpkin. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t an excess of potential shopkeepers or shoppers lined up at the entrance to Snowmass Village, even if we could identify where that actually is.

What the question for Snowmass Village is and always has been is: How can we better serve Aspen’s shoppers and diners? They are bringing folks in by the jet and Range Rover loads. The formula that has worked forever for everyone, except the few people attempting to force a substantial retail identity here, is to point out to visitors how great it is to ski here and shop there. That is the great varietal opportunity that exists in our copasetic relationship with Aspen that occurs at few other ski resorts in the world.

This said, I now neither get to bite on a leg of fried chicken or nibble on a perfectly seasoned soft-boiled egg. I have to go ahead and eat some vulture giblets. Here goes: Related Amalgamated is right in the strategy of foregoing more retail space at Base Village in exchange for more hot beds.

Time has already taught us that Snowmass Village’s highest and best use is as a family-friendly ski area and tourist bed-base for Aspen’s shopping and nightlife. I think time will eventually tell us that it was much easier for us to change the ways in which we imagined ourselves making a living out here than it ever was trying to change the nature of the purpose our town serves best.

Roger Marolt thinks improving the commuting experience between here and Aspen is the best way to ensure our future success. Email him at

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