Staying open in spring a chance to shine for Vail businesses
VAIL, Colorado – Since 1963, Vail Village has gotten very quiet after the lifts hum to a stop in the spring. But there are have always been a few businesses that forsake post-season trips to keep their doors open while the snow melts.
The Golden Bear in Vail Village is one of those businesses.
“We’ve always stayed open,” store manager Darcy Zimmerman said. “We have Mother’s Day and graduations coming up.”
And, while the skiers have gone, Vail always hosts professional conferences and seminars in the spring – rates are great, after all. Zimmerman said she sees people from those groups fairly regularly.
In fact, the conference business had the Sonnenalp booked solid last weekend.
Luca Bruno owns a couple of clothing stores in the Village. One, Luca Bruno Due, is next door to the Sonnenalp on Meadow Drive. Bruno said Friday that his store was actually quite busy Thursday night, thanks to a ladies night event held there. He had another event scheduled for the weekend.
“It’s good for us to help clear out the warehouse,” Bruno said.
Bruno acknowleged he’d rather be working most of the time, but he also said he feels an obligation to his employees, and keeping the doors open at his two shops. Besides, he said, this time of year he’ll know most of the people who come in, just like he and his family are familiar faces when they go out in Vail.
At Billabong on Wall Street, Krysta Sargent said business was slow Friday morning – no one had come in yet – but said she was grateful her bosses decided to keep the doors open.
“It’s good to have that job security,” Sargent said.
And the people who do find the store will find some deals on winter gear still on the shelves, as well as new spring and summer items, Sargent said.
Over at Solaris, Nate and Tara Picklo are celebrating a successful first ski season in their new Yeti’s Grind coffee shop. The Picklos are keeping the Vail location open – the original shop in Eagle is open year ’round, after all – and waiting to see what happens.
“Solaris in general is trying to become known as a place that’s open in the off season,” Tara Picklo said. “We’re local businesses.”
Yeti’s is pretty much down to a one-person operation right now, and the hours have been shortened. Still, Picklo said there are customers coming in, especially since a couple other coffee shops in town have closed down for off season.
“There are still people in town,” Picklo said. “There are some conferences, but it’s mostly locals.”
Picklo said she and her husband are going to work on a few ideas this springs, including a bicycle delivery system for the town. But she’s looking forward to summer, and expanding the store’s hours a bit to sell a little beer and wine later in the day.
“We’re planning to be open the whole year this first year,” Picklo said. “We hope to be more established this summer.”
Staying open in the spring is one way to keep people coming in the summer.
That’s one of the reasons the Sonnenalp stays open in the spring and fall.
“You lose a lot of momentum when you close anything down,” said Kelly Layton, guest services and marketing manager at the Sonnenalp. “And spring and fall are definitely our biggest times for group business.
Keeping momentum going is why the Bully Pub is open all year – with 25 percent off all food right now. But Layton said that the hotel closes down Ludwig’s for dinner in the spring, and the Swiss Chalet is only open Wednesday through Sunday in the off seasons.
Layton agreed that staying open is a way to keep good employees on staff – besides, she added, getting some customers at a cut rate is better than keeping mid-season prices but having no customers.
“You’ve got that overhead anyway,” Layton said. “For us, it makes sense to stay open.”