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Looking forward to Costco

If it’s Costco, nobody loses. That’s become my thinking as the Red Mountain Ranch plan in Eagle has worked its way through the town’s approval process.For those of you not up to speed on the issue, Vail resident Merv Lapin and a group of partners own a big piece of property just east of the town’s current eastern boundary. The overall plan calls for a few hundred homes, probably some open space along the Eagle River dedicated to the town, and, of course, some sort of big box store. Right now, it looks like it might be Costco.This project started several years ago, and has drawn heated opposition from day one. Folks who live between the Eagle River and Highway 6 a couple of miles east of town don’t like it, and I don’t blame ’em a bit. I wouldn’t like the prospect of big-time development popping out of a former pasture across the street from my house, either. The opinions of people who own businesses in Eagle range from wariness to hysterical opposition. I don’t blame them, either. Part of the story of modern America is how Wal-Mart kills downtowns, and squeezes other competitors into submission.But there isn’t a Wal-Mart in this plan. Let’s repeat that:There isn’t a Wal-Mart in this plan.I have no idea what kind of corporate neighbor Costco is. But the company was the subject of a long and generally positive article in USA Today recently. According to the article, Costco pays its people better than the industry average, and the company’s boss seems to be focused on taking care of his customers and employees, perhaps to the detriment of stockholders.I only know about the merchandise available based on a few trips to a couple of stores. But my impression is that Costco’s stuff is of generally better quality than that available at Sam’s.If that’s true, a Costco in Eagle really would bring shoppers in from across the region.Facing an hour’s drive to either Denver or Eagle, Summit County shoppers would probably continue to look east. But folks in Steamboat Springs are likely members, since the Eagle store would be the closest shopping warehouse for them by a long way.Roaring Fork Valley shoppers are definite prospects, and so are folks in Glenwood, to a degree. Yes, Glenwood has a Wal-Mart, and will have a Target by next year. But the allure of a warehouse is strong, especially for families.My wife and I were given a Sam’s Club membership when our daughter was still in diapers and have bought our own membership for the past few years. We learned that what we saved on a couple of cases of diapers paid for the gas for a trip to Grand Junction. The savings on the rest of the bought-in-bulk stuff we brought home was a bonus. Which is why we still go every couple of months. So do lots of other local families, too.All those families eat at least one meal out and do other shopping on their Sam’s runs. That’s why Eagle businesses would benefit. The fact is that Costco sells stuff that isn’t readily available elsewhere in Eagle, except perhaps at City Market. Businesses would do just fine with a big honkin’ warehouse on the town’s front porch.Red Mountain Ranch is private property. Something will be built there, and sooner than later. There will be a big honkin’ warehouse, or something, on Eagle’s front porch someday soon. Whatever’s there will bring traffic, and lots of it, to a stretch of road that already carries plenty of cars for a few brief moments a day.If Eagle’s voters ultimately turn down Red Mountain Ranch, what replaces Lapin’s plan could be better, or worse, for the town.What I know is this: If Costco comes to Eagle, I’ll burn my Sam’s card the day that sucker opens. So will a lot of people I know. And that, friends, would be a good deal for this valley.Staff Writer Scott Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 612, or smiller@vaildaily.comVail Colorado


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