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Big bang of the big boxes

Don Rogers

The Home Depot attracted about 2,000 people to its board-breaking – a twist on the traditional ribbon cutting – Wednesday evening. For awhile, you couldn’t find a place to park.

There’s your answer to the protesting last summer as the bull dozers began the Village at Avon construction, work that continues today and onward. That super-sized Wal-Mart is around the corner, with a projected July opening, and more retail stores will follow.

There’s also that matter of 2,400 homes before the project that eventually will double the size of Avon, along with the town’s population, before it’s all done over the next decade or so. Developer Magnus Lindholm last fall even suggested an ice rink and perhaps even a conference center might be on the horizon as well.

Here we go. Whether this new era proves good or bad, we’ll learn soon enough. Probably, as with most complicated turns in life, it will be a bit of both.

The town of Avon has given up sales tax revenue from Village at Avon for the next 10-15 years, until bonds are paid off. Will the new stores also sap revenue from the retailers who support the town with sales tax?

Or will the new stores attract a flood of fresh customers to perk up business outside the village?

Avon’s newly resurgent business association – animated by the specter of the big boxes – has been preparing to take advantage of the influx of customers they hope will come to these 7 acres of selling space, between Home Depot and the giant Wal-Mart.

The shakeout of existing stores that won’t be able to compete, will begin now. History suggests strongly that struggles are in store.

Strength in the organization bonding these businesses is critical now. Thank the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau for stepping up to help with the admnistration of the business group.

The big boxes should keep more dollars that would otherwise escape to Denver and Grand Junction in Eagle County, and they will attract more people from out of town to shop here. The side effect of harming existing stores that find they can’t compete is unfortunate, but now here.

If Wednesday’s overflowing crowd can be taken as a clue, customers will love their new options at The Home Depot, and the grocery business at Wal-Mart will go much easier on the pocketbook.

We may not particularly care for the idea of the High Country infected with another dose of suburbia in the form of big box shopping experiences. But it appears we’ll vote with our wallets to encourage more of them.

That future has arrived at the heart of the valley. Let’s just say things are about to get very interesting.


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