More places to shop than eat, tourists say |

More places to shop than eat, tourists say

Edward StonerVail, CO Colorado
NWS off season visitors1 KA 5-5-07

VAIL – Betsy and Thom Farver wanted to know where they could eat. They had found plenty of places to shop – Thom Farver carried a bag from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – but no restaurants.”We had no idea everything would be closed,” he said.There are, in fact, people who visit Vail in the first week of May, when there is no skiing and no hiking, when the weather can be sunny or snowy and when many restaurants are closed.They may be outnumbered by construction workers in orange vests, though. On Friday, lots of streets were torn up and the sounds of jackhammers filled the air.

The Farvers, of Houston, were visiting Vail for the day from Breckenridge, where they were staying for a few days.”It’s nice to find the peace and tranquility of no crowds,” Thom Farver said.Bridge Street, with its shuttered ski shops and fur-coat stores, was eerily empty at times Friday morning compared to the bustle of ski season. Nevertheless, lots of stores were open. Many business owners say they want to help Vail become a year-round shopping destination.Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was empty except for Patricia Lamonna. Most customers this time of year are locals, Lamonna said. There are a few tourists – more on weekends than weekdays, she said.”They come in and complain everything is closed, especially restaurants,” she said. “It’s like a ghost town now.”

Wet snow started falling hard as Jerry and Sean Tuttle crossed the Covered Bridge into town.”I knew there would be snow. I didn’t think it would be snowing,” said Jerry Tuttle, of Oklahoma City, Okla. And why were they here? They couldn’t get to Aspen on the snowy roads.”We didn’t want to go that far,” Jerry Tuttle said.They were on a road trip from the Midwest, having already visited Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park and Leadville.They had planned to get to Aspen via Independence Pass but discovered it was closed.

“We realized, because we’re flatlanders, we couldn’t go over the mountain passes,” Jerry Tuttle said.They were going to stay in Vail for the afternoon and do some shopping, he said.And when it comes to shopping, what better place for a tourist than a T-shirt shop? Its worker, Irina Samodurova, perhaps had the good perspective on the mud-season tourist.”Almost nobody,” she said to describe her customers that day, adding that she gets about 10 customers a day on average this time of year, she said.”Sometimes more, sometimes less, you never know,” she said.

Andy Haupert of Cottonwood, Ariz., was wandering up Bridge Street with a Starbucks drink in hand. He had stopped here on a road trip from Arizona to Wyoming. He was just going to hang out a couple of hours.”Most of it is closed,” he said.Bridge Street was then empty for a few minutes. Then, two archetypal tourists – a man and woman, each with a camera and a bewildered look – walked out of the Transportation Center.They didn’t speak English, the man said, but added they were from Sweden and planned to stay for “an hour or two,” before walking off to excitedly take photos of the big white 10th Mountain Division statue.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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