Local businesses are ‘stronger together’: It Takes a Vail Valley initiative launches
'There’s so many opportunities to touch people who love Vail and to encourage them to support these businesses'
What’s it going to take for local businesses to survive and thrive through COVID-19? It Takes a Vail Valley is a new county-wide initiative launched by local Cynthia Pillsbury under the premise businesses in the community are “stronger together.”
“We need a call to action. We need to tell people how to help,” Pillsbury said. “We absolutely need to engage the second-home owners and the occasional or seasonal or lifer visitors to this valley. If we share our story and give them a reason to contribute, then I think people will.”
It Takes a Vail Valley is on Instagram. Pillsbury is encouraging local businesses to follow and share happenings at their shops — a “one-stop shop of what businesses are doing and how to support them.”
Perch Vail, 10th Mountain Whiskey, Vendetta’s, Hovey & Harrison, Vintage Magnolia and other local businesses have been featured on the page, announcing updates, hours of operation, deals and more.
“Any business in the valley can post what’s going on,” Pillsbury said. “We really need a way to communicate, and I think the more ways the better. I just feel like there’s so many opportunities to touch people who love Vail and to encourage them to support these businesses that they want to come back and visit, even if it’s not until next winter or summer.”
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In the process of checking in on popular establishments, followers of It Takes a Vail Valley also have the chance to find a new business to check out.
“It’s basically free advertising for them,” Pillsbury said. “So many people love Vail, but they don’t necessarily follow every restaurant or store they like to frequent.”
In addition to the outreach on Instagram, It Takes a Vail Valley is also offering three branded products for local businesses to purchase at wholesale price and sell for profit while donating a portion of proceeds to nonprofit partner Community Market. Items with the It Takes a Vail Valley brand for sale include 7-by-7 flags and 4-by-4 window decals as well as branded Ski Town All-Stars hats. The logo was created by Eagle-based designer Sue Throckmorton and is being produced at First Chair Designs in Edwards. The flags, purchased by any valley business wholesale for $4.75, can sell for $20 with $5 donated to The Community Market. The window decals, available for $1.85 wholesale, can sell for $10 with $3 donated to The Community Market. Ski Town All-Stars reduced its wholesale price for the hats, Pillsbury said, which are available for any business to sell, purchased for $14 wholesale and sold for $35 with $5 going to The Community Market.
Business owners interested in joining It Takes a Vail Valley can follow the Instagram page and contact Pillsbury with inquiries about purchasing flags, decals and hats at Cynthia_pillsbury@mac.com.
The Community Market, formerly known as The Eagle River Valley Food Bank, improves access to healthy food in the community for those in need. It is a partnership of the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, Food Bank of the Rockies, Eagle County government, Vail Resorts and other local nonprofit groups.
“I just want to make an impact,” Pillsbury said, “and it’s such an amazing community that you can make an impact.”
How can we make this better?
Growing up in Minnesota, Pillsbury and her family would frequent Vail Mountain. At 3 years old, she learned from the legendary Vail ski instructor Jebbie — the namesake for Jebbie’s Deck by Chair 2.
“Vail has always been near and dear to my heart,” she said.
Pillsbury went to school in Boulder and got married in Vail with the dream of retiring here. After a career working in branding and market research in New York City and San Francisco, Pillsbury and her family made the move last summer to the valley.
“I’m new as a full-time resident, but Vail and Colorado feels very much like home to me,” she said.
Pillsbury, with three children, has been active in the community, volunteering with guest services on the mountain and the Vail Valley Foundation’s Magic School Bus, as well as extracurricular activities at her children’s schools.
When COVID-19 hit, limits on travel severely impacted her job, often traveling to do research in other communities. In one year in the valley, Pillsbury has befriended many business owners and was sure to include their thoughts when launching It Takes a Vail Valley.
“In my mind, I’m a marketing person, so I’m constantly thinking about what can we do, how can we make this better,” she said.
While Pillsbury launched It Takes a Vail Valley, she calls the project “ours” — the community’s.
“I’m all about collaboration,” she said.
And it’s through collaboration that It Takes a Vail Valley will help local businesses survive and thrive in these times of uncertainty.