VAIL, Colorado - Owners and store managers at a few of the dozen new retail stores in Vail Village are reporting strong sales during the busy holiday season.
There are at least eight new businesses on Meadow Drive alone, including the six new stores at the Shops at Solaris Plaza, the former Marketplace on Meadow Drive location, most of which have opened just within the last couple of weeks.
As holiday skiers have walked through town, many have stopped to browse and buy some of the high-end goods available at the shops there. At Lamina, a luxury jewelry store that specializes in rare items, business started off slowly in early December but has picked up in recent days.
"It's been getting better ever since about five days ago," said sales clerk and gemologist Hernan Contreras. "New stores take a couple of months usually. We've been doing OK since a couple of days before Christmas."
Contreras reported a couple of $10,000 jewelry sales in the last week, and he's confident sales will remain strong throughout the holiday season.
At Testosterone, a men's store that sells everything from clothing to humidors to watches to knives, the store is already exceeding expectations less than a week after opening. Manager Sean McBride said the store opened Friday, and it has already surpassed the sales of its sister store in Aspen at least once.
"On Christmas Eve, we beat Aspen," McBride said. "People are coming in."
It's hard for a lot of men to walk past the store once they catch a glimpse of the more than $70,000 custom-built chopper on display in the center of the room. Jim Yanco wandered into the store with his wife and daughter Wednesday afternoon because he was drawn to the bike. He walked in and joked that he had a reservation to rent the bike for the afternoon.
"This (chopper) brings people in," McBride said. "This is a great conversation piece right now."
Below Sweet Basil facing Gore Creek is a new rustic-style restaurant called Mountain Standard, by the owners and chef of Sweet Basil. At lunchtime Wednesday the place was nearly packed. Over on Bridge Street, the Cashmere and Coco Boutique is open for business, as is a new store called The Great Put-On at the former Golden Bear location. That location sat empty since the Golden Bear relocated to a space on Gore Creek Drive, near Checkpoint Charlie, a year ago. The Bridge Street location closed at the end of January 2012.
Kenneth and Nicole Bilzerian opened The Great Put-On about a week ago and business has been strong so far. The couple owns a store in Martha's Vineyard, also called The Great Put-On, which has been open for 43 years but closes its doors each winter. They've been looking for a winter location for a long time, Nicole Bilzerian said, and finally ruled out Aspen and decided on Vail.
"We thought Aspen had enough of this kind of store and that in Vail, there was a niche here for us," she said.
The store carries both men's and women's clothing, including designer fashion from Europe and the United States. Nicole Bilzerian has been pleased with the amount of interest in the store and hopes to remain in Vail long-term. Browsers and shoppers were in and out of the store all afternoon Wednesday, a trend Nicole Bilzerian hopes will continue.
"It's been great - knock on wood," she said.
High-end seems to be the theme among Vail Village's new retail. Shops at Solaris owner Peter Knobel and Solaris Sales, Marketing and Leasing Director Craig Cohn said they think Vail's retail is undoubtedly catching up to what guests at a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons expect, as it should.
Denimaxx, for example, is a new fur shop in Solaris. Across the plaza now is another new store called Icebreaker, which sells fine Merino wool baselayers and other clothing.
Across the street, a women's clothing store called Perch recently opened and owner Laurie O'Connell said business is exceeding her expectations. She based her goals on historical data from the town of Vail such as same store sales reports and budgeted her expectations conservatively.
"It's been wonderful," O'Connell said, adding that the community has given her such a warm welcome. "We've been very busy - people are very happy with the store."
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.