Business hot spot
Editor’s note: “Vail Village,” for the purposes of this story, encompasses the area between Vail Road on the west and Vail Valley Drive on the east.VAIL, Colorado – After years of work and untold millions invested, Vail Village is a finished product – for now. Now, even as the national economy still staggers, the village has become a hot spot for businesses.The town of Vail has issued more than a dozen new business licenses in Vail Village since June 1. Most are for retail operations. Several new businesses have opened in the Solaris building, but a few new shops have opened on Bridge Street. A couple of those are national retailers.Under Armour opened a Bridge Street location earlier this fall, and Specialty Sports Venture, the retail arm of Vail Resorts, recently opened a Marmot store in the neighborhood.Lee Steele, the sales and marketing manager for Specialty Sports Venture, said the decision to put a store on Bridge Street was fairly easy. The store sells outdoor gear for men, women and kids – just the kind of merchandise you’d expect to see in a ski town. More than that, though, Steele said Bridge Street is simply a great location.”When you think of Vail, you think of Vail Village,” Steele said. “And Bridge Street is the heart of that.”While Lionshead captured a lot of attention after the Arrabelle at Vail Square opened in late 2007, focus has shifted back to the village as the construction cranes have vanished from the skyline.
Luca Bruno has always believed in Vail Village – so much so that he’s opened three stores there over the past decade, all of which bear his name. Two of those stores remain, including one opened just last month in Solaris.Bruno, a native of Italy who still travels often to that country, said Vail is increasingly well-known, and loved, by many Europeans. He told the story of an Italian friend who loves the town and its mountain.”It’s so international,” Bruno said. “It’s appealing for people, and we really have the creme de la creme of the buildings now.”With those buildings built, Bruno said the buzz in the village is obvious, even during quiet times.Over the past few years, East Meadow Drive has caught that buzz as new hotels have opened. And Solaris is right in the middle of that new action. Over the last couple of months, six businesses have either moved to Solaris or opened brand-new shops there. Solaris is now two spaces shy of being completely leased for retail space. That relatively quick fill-up, even during an economic slump, is something Craig Cohn’s seen before, when he ran retail stores with locations including Bridge Street.”There’s historically been low vacancy in Vail Village,” said Cohn, Solaris sales director. “And when shops do change, the turnover happens pretty quickly.”Part of that is due to location, location, location – at the foot of what Cohn called “the best ski resort in North America.”Part, though, is due to the layout of the village.”It’s like one big shopping mall,” Cohn said. “There are no bad areas, no odd corners – it’s easy for a consumer to find you.”