Vail manhole cover sales surpass $100,000 mark
VAIL – Initially introduced for fun, Vail manhole covers have become serious business for the town of Vail. Sales of the famous manhole covers have just surpassed the $100,000 milestone. Proceeds benefit Vail’s Art in Public Places (AIPP) program. AIPP Coordinator Leslie Fickling says the project is helping to fund stone artwork and other pieces that are being integrated in the new streetscape improvements in Vail Village. “This is such a great gift to the community,” Fickling said. “Our art programs are beginning to flourish with this new funding source and our buyers are happy to know the money is being used to benefit the community.” The popularity of the manhole covers is as strong as the first day the town offered them, she said. They appeal to buyers because of their uniqueness and the strong identity associated with Vail. After announcing it would offer souvenir versions to deter thefts of the real ones in the summer of 2002, the town has sold more than 700 manhole covers of various sizes and finishes to buyers in 37 states and several foreign countries. The most popular of the manhole products is the 8-inch wide water valve cover finished in a bronze verde patina that sells for $120. Other buyers, for $295, have preferred the larger 24-inch wide, 52 pound cast iron covers that best simulate the real thing. The biggest sale, to date, occurred in July 2003 when a woman from Vail brought home 3 large covers and 2 small ones totaling $1,015. Intrigued by the origin of Vail’s souvenir manhole covers, most buyers want to know if thefts of the real ones have been reduced, Fickling said “I tell them we got smarter and we’re now using a stronger adhesive. And while we still lose a few from the most determined of our late-night souvenir hunters, most of our covers are just where we want them – in the ground, unless they pay for them and then they can put them anywhere they want,” said Fickling. So popular are the manhole covers that a new product line – manhole cover jewelry – was introduced in July at the Vail Farmers’ Market. Money clips, cufflinks, necklaces, charms, bracelets and earrings are now being sold in silver and bronze finishes. Since their introduction five months ago, more than 300 manhole jewelry pieces have been sold. The most popular item is the sterling silver manhole cover necklace on a rubber chain, priced at $60. Also showing strong sales is a manhole cover crystal holiday ornament for $20.As Vail’s manhole mania was taking hold, the town launched a new web site at http://www.ownapieceofvail.com and a toll free phone number to help keep up with orders. Manhole cover products make great gifts for just about any occasion, including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and holidays, Fickling said. The town has an ample inventory to accommodate holiday orders. In addition to the web site, the products are available by calling 479-2344 or toll free 1-866-650-9020. Walk-in sales also take place in the Vail Municipal Building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.Vail Colorado
In terms of area, it’s the county’s smallest conservation deal ever. In terms of location, it’s one of the county’s rarest acquisitions.