A champion of the Vail Village scene
When meeting a mover and shaker of corporate America, one typically anticipates seeing a high-powered, type-A, egotist. Rick Scalpello, a former IBM Marketing and Finance executive, is the antithesis of the aforementioned personality type.Sitting outside Bogart’s Bar and Bistro recently on East Meadow Drive in Vail Village, Scalpello looks like anything but the business wizard he once was or, rather, still is. Sporting neatly pressed jeans, plaid shirt, and a dark green Western-style hat, which he refers to as his, “Indiana Jones hat,” plus his signature aviator glasses, his manner is relaxed, easygoing and congenial.Perhaps he has adapted to being officially retired, although his wife of thirty-two years, Gwen, says he is “a failure at retirement.”The Scalpellos’ love affair with Vail began in 1980, when they first started coming to the resort for the skiing. Buying a condo in 1990, they finally “retired” here three years ago. Both Rick and Gwen have embraced the community. She is a volunteer for many Vail Valley programs. And both are active members of on mountain Community Guest Services, and were instrumental in starting the volunteer appreciation party held at a local restaurant at the end of the winter season.Scalpello’s greatest contribution to the community, so far, has been the creation of (East) Meadow Drive Partnership. His involvement and success in organizing the businesses and respective landlords along the street into a cohesive partnership is already achieving the primary objective of increasing business traffic.Working, in his estimation “about 1,000 hours per year,” he was able to organize the more than eighty businesses including restaurants, art galleries, jewelry stores and other retail establishments that make up what is fast becoming Vail’s “Main Street.” Although he was offered compensation by the partnership, he takes no salary, a figure he jokingly says “might double next year.” He does it because he enjoys it, and when it ceases to become fun he says he’ll stop.In its effort to build traffic and draw repeat visitors to the village; the partnership focuses its energy on providing events to attract locals and tourists alike. The creation of television advertising, locator maps, decorative flags and improved lighting, particularly on Gore Creek Drive, were all part of the initiative.One of the most important elements in the success of the venture was the cooperation Scalpello was able to obtain from the key landlords, Joe Staufer, Johannes Faessler, Fred Hibberd, Luc Meyer, Oscar Tang and his replacement, Peter Knobel. From the partnership’s inception, these astute businessmen have been nothing but superb allies. Funding the original organization with a contribution of $25,000, they continue to provide financial support by donating matching money to the dues paid by the Partnership’s members.In addition to the beautification and marketing endeavor, Rick started such crowd pleasers as Festival Italiano, the soon to be inaugurated Arts and Wine Festival, the Sunday farmers’ market, and in collaboration with Joan Norris and Dan Telleen, owner/artisan of Karats, the Saturday evening Art Walks. Telleen now runs the Art Walks and is instrumental in building cooperation among the drive’s art galleries.Scalpello is quick to add, “(The) key to the success of these events is the willingness of businesses to participate.”One of his most successful events is Vail’s Farmers’ Market. Held every weekend from June 20 to Sept 19, from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., the market now includes over sixty vendors and is rapidly becoming the biggest Sunday market in the state. As a result of the influx of visitors to the Farmer’s Market, there has been a dramatic increase in the Sunday business retailers have experienced.”One business reported having a better August this past year than they did their usually busiest time in March,” Scalpello said.Some of the partnership’s expenses are covered by the cost for sponsorships of events. These are offered at $250 to $1,250 for platinum, gold, silver, and bronze levels. The money earned from the tent rentals goes directly into the partnership’s operating budget.The Arts and Wine Festival will be held for seven weekends, beginning July 3 on International Bridge, during Bravo! and the Vail International Dance Festival. The focus of the event is the twelve Colorado wineries; four different vintners each week, who present their best wines to the public. In all, thirty tents are expected to fill the street with music, snacks to compliment wines, and exhibits by the Village’s best-known art galleries. With the help of Jazz impresario, Howard Stone, this year’s festival will see the addition of seven jazz performances beginning June 26 through August 7.More information about events is available online at http://www.vailsmainstreet.com. For Vail’s business owners, Scalpello’s organization skills and altruism have paid handsome dividends. The payback for Rick Scalpello is seeing the influx of people to our village, and the new business community esprit de corps.Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer living in Blue River. He is a regular contributor to the Vail Daily and writes a regular column about the art scene in the Vail Valley.