Locals hit the road, or go online
EAGLE COUNTY – Kandi Smith of Edwards is an avid Internet shopper. She buys clothes online because she likes the variety and the low prices – things, she said, that Vail doesn’t offer.”You go to llbean.com and see a shirt you like for 40 bucks. At the small boutiques, they’re charging $280. That’s a big difference if you work for a living,” Smith said.And because Wal-Mart doesn’t carry what her daughter wants for her birthday, she’ll probably look for it online, Smith said.”If I can’t find it, I’ll look online, and I would consider going to Wishes – I like to support my community – but it’s the only toy store around here,” Smith said.
She would love to see more stores in the area, particularly a Target, Smith said.”It’d be nice to have more stores up here, but there are not enough people in this valley to employ, especially with the expensive housing,” Smith said.Mark Windels of West Vail rarely visits Vail’s small stores. Windels said they are too expensive.”Even if the Vail Valley had more stores, everything would still be too expensive because of the high property taxes,” Windels said. “Shopping in Vail Valley is expensive. That’s why people go to Denver – they take shopping trips on the weekends.”Small, specialty stores play a “risky role,” competing with bigger stores and thriving on tourists, Windels said.
“Multimillion dollar homes are being built, and specialty stores cater to their owners,” Windels said. “You see all this upscale furniture in stores – they’ve got the market cornered.”Jon Peterson, from Minneapolis, Minn., is outfitting his vacation home in East Vail. He said he’s starting with the basics like pots and sheets.”I wouldn’t envision commodity goods being priced better than at Wal-Mart,” Peterson said. “When I want more unique things, I’ll go to the smaller stores.”Many locals said they would prefer to shop at smaller stores if the prices weren’t unrealistic for their budgets.”If I had the money I would shop at the expensive tourist stores, but I also think there’s big value (in stores like Wal-Mart) where people get everything in one stop,” said Tammy Brown of Vail.Customer service is one of the biggest differences between shopping at small stores and shopping at big stores or online, said Tommy Lauhoff of Edwards.
“I like small stores, little ‘mom and pop’ places. At smaller specialty stores, there’s usually customer service. They take better care of their customers,” Lauhoff said.Barbara Eichler of Gypsum turned to the Internet to buy presents during the Christmas rush. She doesn’t usually go online to buy things, but she didn’t want to have to travel to Silverthorne, Glenwood Springs or Denver to shop, she said.”I don’t like sitting in front of a computer, but I do go online if I can’t find what I’m looking for in stores,” Eichler said.Many locals said they like to feel a product with their hands, read the back and compare it to other products before they buy something. When Matt Rigsby of Avon set out to buy a digital camera, he went to a store to check out a couple cameras before he bought one of them online.”I wanted to touch it, feel it, see all its features, but it was cheaper online,” Rigsby said.
Brown does almost all of her clothes shopping online. “Purses, shoes, jewelry –you can get cheaper name brands on eBay,” Brown said. “There’s not enough variety in Vail.”Rigsby said he would also like to see more variety in Vail.”I would prefer more stores to go to, a Target, a mall or anywhere else to get better clothes,” Rigsby said. “We’ve got small stores, which are expensive, and we’ve got Wal-Mart. We’ve got the low end and the high end but no medium.”Vail, Colorado