Business blazed in Vail
VAIL – Debi Barnes’ shopping bags traced the path of her afternoon – Billabong, the Burton Store and Mill Creek Studios. Then the Palm Harbor, Fla., resident and her family were in the American Ski Exchange, looking for jackets for her three teenage daughters.It seems lots of other visitors also were finding what they wanted in Vail stores last year. The town of Vail collected more in sales tax in 2005 than it ever had before. Vail estimates it will take in $16.5 million in sales tax in 2005, up from $15.5 million in 2004, the previous high. The numbers for 2005 beat the town’s expectations by $1.8 million.The increase came despite heavy construction underway for Vail’s “billion-dollar renewal,” which some feared would harm local business.The Barneses were in Vail for the day from Breckenridge, where they were staying for a week. It was their first time in Vail. Barnes had bought some animal statues at Mill Creek Studios and some clothes at Billabong and the Burton Store. Barnes said the construction sties weren’t bothering her, although she was looking forward to its completion.
“It looks like it’s going to be better when the construction is over,” she said.’Excellent stores, good service’Peter Williams of London was checking out the offerings at Kemo Sabe, a Western-themed store in Vail Village, after a day of “brilliant” skiing. Town officials attribute the good sales tax numbers in part to good snow this year. The strongest months for sales tax were March, May, June and November.Williams said he was impressed with Vail’s shopping offerings, and had already bought some sweatshirts.”Excellent stores, good service, nice people,” he said.Jeff Green of Houston, on his day off from skiing, was waiting outside Pepi Sports for his fiancee and a friend, who were shopping inside. Green, a frequent Vail visitor, said he likes the shopping in Vail.
“There’s a good variety of things,” he said. “Usually I’ll get some stuff, gifts – sweatshirts and hats.”His fiancee usually buys more high-end items, he said, but he was hoping they wouldn’t go too high-end.”They actually already have furs so I hope they don’t walk out with another,” he said.Nancy Yoder, Kemo Sabe owner, said the shop has been doing well this season.”This year, everything is rocking and rolling,” she said.Judy Camp, the town’s finance director, said Lionshead numbers were down as a result of heavy construction, but taxes paid on utilities and goods shipped into town offset weaknesses.The town also estimates it received $6.2 million last year from the real estate transfer tax. The 1 percent tax is used for open space and parks and recreation.
It also expects $1.5 million in money from construction permits in 2005. Most of that money is from seven major projects: Arrabelle at Vail Square, the Forest Place houses, Gore Creek Place, One Willow Bridge Road, Sonnenalp Resort, Westhaven Condominiums and Vail Plaza Hotel. In 2005, Vail saw more in construction value – $245 million – than it had ever seen in its history.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado