Resort town opportunists |

Resort town opportunists

Alex Miller
Shane Macomber/Daily file photoGerlinde Debie of Purple Sage Organics says about a quarter of her business comes from second-home owners.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Some locals may look askance at second-home owners as interlopers driving up the price of real estate. Others, though, see mostly an opportunity to be part of the biggest segment of the local economy.

Dee St. John and her family take care of two homes in Vail – one of which they live in. It’s the kind of deal to cause other locals to drool: a seemingly plush gig taking care of a fancy home right at the base of the mountain. But when the owners are in town, the St. Johns are kept hopping.

“We pretty much do everything for them,” St. John said. “From picking them up at the airport to getting groceries to organizing ski lessons to making restaurant reservations.

“If you can think of it, I do it for them,” she said.

Gerlinde Debie has a different kind of relationship with the second-home owners. Debie owns Purple Sage Organics, a natural food-and-supply store in Minturn. Purple Sage delivers, and about a quarter of Debie’s business is with second-home owners, she said.

“They’re great for business because they want good quality, and they don’t have time to go shopping at City Market,” she said. “A lot of people are going more toward organic, and it’s hard to find in the valley. That makes it a good niche for service-oriented delivery of organic food.”

At the beginning of 2005, locals Brooke Burgee and Jodi Link started a home care and concierge service called Lights On. Later, they were joined by financial partners Bob and Amy Rowley.

The response has been so great that they added an office in Aspen and plan to expand to other Colorado resort communities. Ultimately, Amy Rowley said, the plan is to go national and service beach and mountain resorts.

“I think there will absolutely be more demand for businesses like this,” Rowley said.

Her husband, a former executive with a national temporary services company, has a side business storing and renting sports cars, while she does home decorating. But Lights On is taking up a great portion of their time.

“No matter what the income level, people are time-poor,” she said. “We provide a service that frees up that time so they can enjoy their life.”

That can include everything from arranging for a private jet to stocking the pantry before the second-home owners arrive, Rowley said. Unlike property management companies that focus on rentals and maintenance, she said Lights On is a more personal service that tends to the details so the owners can focus on relaxing.

Information about Lights On is available online at Purple Sage is at

Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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