Vail businesses: We’re open |

Vail businesses: We’re open

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyKen Brodeur takes the covers off the homemade ice cream Thursday at Joe's Deli in Vail Village.

VAIL, Colorado ” It’s early afternoon in Vail Village, and streets that have been bustling all ski season are quiet.

There’s not a car in sight, and a few people are strolling around the cobblestone streets. Even the usually-packed Starbucks is nearly empty, except for a few people enjoying the sun on the patio.

Some stores have signs posted on closed doors, announcing off-season closures. Others, like Kemo Sabe, a western wear store, have their doors open. Business is definitely quieter following the ski season, but the store is committed to being open year-round, said store employee Jean Meckstroth.

“It’s what we do every year,” she said. “We still get orders from all over the world, and it’s good for our employees to stay open. We still get some walk-in business, too.”

Although business may be historically slow in late April and May, some Vail retailers and restaurateurs are encouraging neighbors to keep their doors open. In a down business year, and creating activity ” any activity ” in the villages is crucial, some said.

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“Vail can’t afford to not be open. It’s a brand name,” said Rayla Kundolf, owner of Masters Gallery on Meadow Drive. “We have these hotels and groups trying to book conferences around this time, and I think we send a wrong message if we’re closed.”

There may be days that no customers walk through the doors, but there is still business to be done in the village, some said.

Sweet Basil owner Matt Morgan said he finds value in staying open, especially for lunch. Even in the off season, business people in town or people attending conferences at local hotels are in the village, and Sweet Basil is one of the few places open during the day, Morgan said.

Local residents and village employees keep business going for Joe’s Deli on Bridge Street, said owner Joe Joyce.

“The more businesses that are open, the more business that will happen,” Joyce said. “And there have actually been a fair number of people in the village. This week there have been quite a few tourists walking around. It’s definitely not empty.”

Cabal Yarne, owner of Arriesgado Clothing in Lionshead, said the store had one of its best days the day after the mountain closed, when many other retailers were shut down.

“A couple stores were open here and there, so the day after mountain closed was a phenomenal day, definitely better than average,” Yarne said. “People were still in town, there was a Future Business Leaders of America group in town, as well as some clients from Mexico City.”

Free parking and less crowds mean that more local residents will frequent the village, said Wendy Stewart, store manager at Marble Slab Creamery in Vail Village.

“We see a lot of locals finally coming out of hibernation,” she said. “There will still be days with no people, but it’s also kind of nice to have a less stressful time after the ski season.”

Other stores said they will stay open for the occasional customer and use the down time to get off-season housekeeping done.

“I understand some stores are shorter staffed and don’t have the manpower to stay open year-round,” said Axel Wilhelmsen, owner of Axel’s in the village. “That said, it’s important for a resort to try and maintain openings year-round. It’s been unbelievably quiet (the last week), but we still do some limited business. We use the time to do inventory, clean up, and rearrange some things.”

Yarne of Arriesgado said the business closed last year for off-season, but he opted to try a year-round schedule this year. He figures the store can tough out a bad economy, and housekeeping chores can keep his staff busy in the coming month.

“We’ve been revamping our Web site ” it’s a good opportunity to keep the employees busy,” he said. “Also, I think this is a good time to differentiate yourself from the competition. We can all jump on the bandwagon and complain together about the economy, or do something about it.”

Kundolf was optimistic that Vail businesses can survive a tough summer.

“I’m keeping my doors are open. People call, I do my inventory, paint my walls and get geared up for the summer,” she said. “We are all ambassadors to our town, so it’s good to be open, have good service, and move forward. We’ll get through this.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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