Vail for sale on eBay
Vail has always been for sale.From the days of Pete Seibert and George Caulkins tooling around in a silver Porsche in 1960 hawking shares of Vail and four lifetime ski passes for $10,000, to the more contemporary phenomenon of the Town of Vail padding its coffers by selling $75,000 worth of souvenir manhole covers, the enterprising investor has always been able to purchase a piece of paradise.But it’s too bad those early Vail pioneers didn’t have the power of eBay, because it boggles the mind to imagine the volume of Vail-emblazoned shot glasses, T-shirts, posters and drink cozies they could have moved online.Even in this era of corporate conglomeration of the ski industry, though, with the nation’s No. 1 ski resort nearly built-out in its narrow valley, it’s possible to own a piece of Vail by simply clicking on http://www.ownapieceofvail.com.But before the town set up its own e-commerce site to peddle everything from street signs to Ryan Sutter-edition Vail Fire Department T-shirts, Vail officials plied their wares on eBay, the Internet commerce giant that auctions off virtually every bit of pop-culture flotsam and jetsam known to man.During one month of sales on eBay in 2002, the town raked in a remarkable $3,855 in manhole cover sales alone. “For us, the eBay launch was a great opportunity to test the souvenir manhole marketplace to see if people would be willing to buy them. And they did!” says Vail spokeswoman Suzanne Silverthorn. “The publicity triggered exposure all across the country and ended up generating sales (eBay and otherwise) from more than 35 states “Even if a sale isn’t consummated on the Web, do not underestimate the marketing power of eBay, where Colorado Mountain College officials recently opted to post their Vail campus at the lift-served Cascade Resort.The minimum bid for the three-level facility was a cool $3.5 million, and, not surprisingly, there were no bidders, but that was somewhat beside the point.”We’ve gotten great publicity, which is why I thought about doing it in the first place,” says CMC spokesman Nick Isenberg. “It’s done well for PR, but we also have to sell the campus, and we hope we sell it for more than $3.5 million. The taxpayers need their money.”CMC is moving into a new building in Edwards for fall classes, freeing up the circa 1983 Vail campus for a creative condo owner or a commercial venture. While there were no bids, the novelty of college campus in a ski resort for sale on eBay generated stories in USA Today, on the Associated Press wire and on Denver TV. And curious capitalists from as far away as California toured the property.”We’ve had a couple of people interested in doing trades,” says CMC purchasing manager Sam Skramstad. “I don’t think the college would be interested in trading it for a property in Hawaii. As tempting as it is, I don’t think the taxpayers would like that.”Skramstad says the eBay offer, which expired Jan. 29, will now be followed by a more traditional sales effort negotiations with a local realtor are under way but he too was impressed by the college’s national media exposure.”It got us a lot of publicity,” Skramstad says. “Frankly, I’m pretty skeptical of anyone who would step up to the board and pay $3.5 million for a piece of property on eBay but it certainly sparked some interest.”Punch in a “Vail” search on the site and far more mundane items come up for bid: lift tickets, condo time shares and apparel for the spelling-challenged bride: gowns and vails galore.But there are some real bargains on the site, items the serious Vail buff won’t want to be without. Take, for example, the following bits of Happy Valley history: A vinyl golf bag from the 1983 Jerry Ford Invitational for $9.99. The seller says it is “quite possibly President Jerry Ford’s bag.” A “fun ski resort sweater” featuring “an embroidered aprs ski Vail and a skier on the front, Aspen EASIEST and alpine more difficult,” on the sleeves, and the “back has Sun Valley, Lake Tahoe and Steamboat Springs. Just a quality, coool sweater!” for a low-low starting bid of $9.99. Vintage, never-used match boxes and booklets from the Red Lion Inn, the old Clock Tower Inn and the Lifthouse Lodge. Starting at 3 bucks a pop. Vail ski run levels shot glass for $2: beginners at the bottom, most difficult when filled to the top. “Excellent condition; no chips or cracks.” “Authentic ski jacket and pants of the Vail/Beaver Creek Ski School. Win an actual uniform worn by the world renown (sic) ski school instructors of Vail and Beaver Creek. Have a reminder of your ski vacation in Colorado!” Bids start at $50. A concert photo of Dan Fogelberg performing in Vail in 1980. “Probably one of the best photos you will ever see of Dan.” Start bidding at $9.99. Even Vail-related gear can be found. For example: etched wine glasses from Ryan and Trista’s wedding, starting at $9.99. And don’t think the Town of Vail is out of the eBay game altogether. A pair of Herman Miller Eames couches, circa late 1960s, will be offered in the near future. “(They) came with the building, which opened in 1971. A few years ago, someone came in and offered the town $300 apiece to buy them,” Silverthorn says. “They were on their way out to the dump about a month ago when we decided we’d list them on eBay.”
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