Snowmass shop relocates, but space stays empty
A locally owned business on the Snowmass Village Mall is relocating this winter, even though its former space appears ready to sit empty for the ski season.
81615 T-shirt and Gift Shop, owned by resident Reed Lewis, has operated in a space in the heart of the Snowmass Village Mall for about five years. His lease with the ownership of the Westin hotel complex expired this fall and was not renewed.
At first, Lewis was told the ownership had a serious tenant lined up. But when it got closer to the lease’s expiration and the ownership had not secured a tenant, Lewis opened talks again and received an offer from the owners, but negotiations didn’t pan out.
The space has been vacated, and 81615 will reopen this winter in a space on the street-side end of the Mall, which Lewis is leasing from Related Colorado. Lewis also leases a space from Related for the Daly Bottle Shop liquor store, and Grain, a fine food purveyor.
As of press time Tuesday, Westin management didn’t have a clear response as to whether a tenant was lined up for the space or whether any other spaces it owns would be filled, including one adjacent to 81615 that has been empty since last ski season.
“The hotel is entertaining several options (for the Mall and 81615 space), focused on upgrading the enthusiasm of the existing tenants in our complex and building on the success of those who have embraced the Snowmass community like Starbucks, Patagonia, New Belgium Ranger Station, North Face, Snowmass Sports, Village Wildflowers, Village Salon and the ski tuning shop,” said general manager Jim Morrissey in an email.
Morrissey could not confirm Tuesday whether prospective tenants were being courted for this upcoming winter. Snowmass ski area is scheduled to open Nov. 26.
Leaving retail spaces sitting empty doesn’t benefit anyone, Lewis said.
“It’s not good for the town, not good for other businesses on the Mall, not good for the landlord not getting rent and not good for tenant,” he said. “I’ve had to figure out what to do.”
The Westin’s ownership did not renew several leases with local tenants after purchasing the Silvertree Hotel and Wildwood Lodge in 2011, making way for businesses like Patagonia, North Face and Starbucks to open.
Sherry Flack once owned two clothing stores in the complex. One, Local Rebels, relocated when the ownership decided to lease its former space to North Face; the other, Local Color, continued to operate in the space next to 81615 until last fall. Local Color had a one-year extension on its lease when owners couldn’t find a tenant previously, Flack said.
“I never was even offered to pay more rent,” Flack said. “They said it just wasn’t their look.”
The Westin appears to be more interested in name-brand businesses, but Flack said she doesn’t think that’s what people are looking for.
“It’s kind of funny because both my local customers and the tourists don’t say that’s what they want,” she said. ‘They’re looking for something different.”
Local Color and Local Rebels now operate jointly out of a larger space on the Mall owned by Related. It was hard to adapt at first, Flack said, because she had to change the way she buys inventory, but she’s put a lot of love into the new store, including new drywall and lighting and taking out a staircase that led to the upper level.
“I’m really happy with my new space,” she said.
The Westin ownership and Related Colorado combined own all commercial space on the Snowmass Village Mall. Aside from the addition of 81615, there aren’t any changes ahead the Mall spaces that Related owns, said Leticia Hanke, marketing director.
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On Sept. 11, a small group of local Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responders walked 3 miles from Snowmass Town Park to the Top of the Village for the fifth annual Axes and Arms 9/11 Climb.