Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Signs that economic storm will pass
Vail, CO, Colorado
It is the worst of times. It’s the, well, never mind, of times. But there also are plenty of signs that the recession will loosen its grip on the Vail Valley, in time.
Real estate sales are going twice as good as last year at this time, and, well, less than half of the boom just past.
Aussie-themed chain restaurant Outback was intercepted quietly closing shop this week in Avon by our business editor, Scott Miller. Not to depress you, but the culling seems to be on in full flower.
Businesses that have hung on so long through this eternal downturn are dropping out. Layoffs are still happening. Like this late winter, the recession is not giving way easily.
The stock markets blow chilly but the trend is up. Consumer confidence is rising. Jobs are being added again.
Never mind that the wind vane is fitful and mostly spinning. This is an improvement from consistently blowing hard and cold in the wrong direction.
For us, we escaped the downturn hitting the rest of the country for long enough that we were beginning to believe it would avoid us altogether in the Vail Valley.
I suspect the lag may well last so long that we’ll doubt that recovery is even possible here. But there’s good reason that high-end resort economies are lagging indicators if you think about it. So now we endure an awful period while the nation hits an upswing and we start to wonder why it has passed us by.
That does a number on tender emotions such as … hope.
But this is a resilient community, one that has been through the cycle a time or two. And longtimers will tell you that the crunch in the 1980s was worse.
Only the hardy live at altitude for very long. The last boom only made it seem so easy. If we’d only known, we might have appreciated it more.
But storms pass, eventually. As this one will, too. Eventually.
I goofed a few weeks ago when mentioning that Vail Resorts executive John Garnsey started his career in the ski biz as a lifty.
The company’s co-president of its mountain division actually began his career back east as a ski patroller. He began in Vail in the race department.
Whether lifty or ski patroller, the larger point, of course, is that this exec worked his way pretty much all the way through the ranks to be the top ski guy in our community.
And if you have met him, it’s pretty easy to see why.