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Vail Daily letter: What it will take to build Eagle

August Wittenberg
Eagle, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

Now that the residents of Eagle have spoken, it is important for everyone to work together and understand what we need to do to make Eagle an economically viable place to run a business.

What does it mean to “buy local”? We all need to support local companies more! Many of the local retail store owners preach about buying local in an effort to keep some of the discretionary income in town and keep the stores open.

Buying local is more than shopping at the different local retail establishments. Yeti’s had the opportunity to buy some merchandise for their coffee shop from an online company. Instead they looked to their neighbor. They are getting the same product at the same price, and they are keeping it local.

There are many business service companies in Eagle and in Eagle County who would love to do business with other local businesses.

We would also love to do business with the large companies that are not headquartered here but have a presence here. Using a local graphic designer may not add money to the town’s coffers through sales tax, but it does keep money in the county so that that money can be spent locally over and over.

Any type of business service professional can be found here in Eagle County. How many retailers bought their credit card processing from a local sales rep? How many people buy their cell phones on-line when they would get the same deal with better service at a local store, at the same time keeping money in Eagle County and generating sales tax revenue?

Many of you work for one of the many corporations that have a presence here in Eagle County that could help the local economies by using local services.

Selfishly, why is it so difficult for people to change their vendors to a local vendor when you will get better service, help your neighbor and strengthen your local economy? Why would you not want to at least see what your local vendor can offer you?

I will put our creativity and service up against anyone else in our industry. Just because we are not a large company in a large city does not mean anything other than this is where we choose to live. It is foolish to think that everything will be bought locally, but if we at least gave our local companies an opportunity to offer their services, I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t we all live in a small town because we want to live in a place where neighbors help each other out?

Property and business owners need to clean up their property. As much as anyone may hate it, image is everything. The first impression is the most important.

What is our first impression? Coming from the airport, the first impression people get is Highway 6. The businesses on Highway 6 need to clean up their store fronts.

Our first impression from I-70 is the back side of Chambers. As the Vail Daily said, from I-70, Eagle looks like “crap.”

To the business owners on Chambers, please clean up your property or install a berm or plant trees to shield the view or your “junk yards.”

These two first impressions do not attract random visits. When someone gets off the highway for gas and a burger, they will not go looking for a local restaurant because there is no sign pointing people to our “Historic Downtown.” There should be signs guiding people from I-70 to Broadway and our “Historic Downtown.” No one knows we have a “Historic Downtown.”

Once you get visitors on to Broadway, again first impressions are everything. People do not want to go into stores that look old and run down on the outside and are not well-merchandised on the inside. Invest in quality signage, not cheap banners.

The landlord can blame the store owner and the store owner can blame the landlord, but you need to work together in the best interest of both parties. The only businesses downtown that have high traffic are the two businesses that understand that image is important. Out-of-town visitors are not going to go down Broadway as long as it looks the way it does, and businesses do not offer things that people want to buy.

The town needs to do its share, also. At a meeting of the Board of Trustees a few weeks ago, one of the trustees asked, “Why should the town of Eagle support the marketing efforts of One Eagle?”

How naive of a question is this? This from one of the trustees who was against Eagle River Station. The town has just as much interest in the businesses in Eagle being successful as the businesses themselves. In the state that this town is, how can the town not agree to help market itself?

The town needs to hire a PR firm (how about a local one) and start getting the word out about how great Eagle is and what we have to offer. The multiple events that are held in the town need to be marketed all over the state.

Why is there no advertising at the airport telling people to come visit our “Historic Downtown”? What about joining together with the local hotels and advertising our great bike trails in some mountain biking magazines or in the summer Ski magazine issues?

Why not advertise in the local magazines that are put out for the local tourists? Why isn’t the 9News Health Fair held on Broadway?

Not only do we need to market to visitors, we need to market to everyone upvalley. There are many residents upvalley who have no idea that Broadway has been redone. The town needs to take some ownership of the financial situation it is in. If it takes higher business license fees, then raise them. Any business that can’t afford an extra $50 a year is not really a viable business.

Two projects have now been turned away. No developer in his right mind is going to come back. So now the onus is on everyone who lives here, no matter how you voted, to clean up and invest in ourselves and support each other.

We can still shop online and in Glenwood, but if we each spend $100 more than we normally would in Eagle this year vs. going out of town, that would be an extra $600,000 spent here annually. Imagine what that can do for your town and your neighbors.

August Wittenberg


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