In Vail, Beaver Creek, economic bad news isn't Epic
February 23, 2009 —
There’s no better way to get a sense of the economy than to talk to hundreds of business owners over the course of a few weeks – which is exactly what I have recently done.
There is certainly some bad news out there, especially in the real estate sector, and several shuttered windows have already appeared.
Expect more during the 2009 offseason.
But the sky is not falling.
Specific numbers are still forthcoming, and many of us await the data which will come at the end of the ski season.
Yet my non-scientific survey of Vail and Beaver Creek has left me feeling confident that our Valley will weather the storm quite well.
For example: I was waiting in an out-the-door line at Pazzo’s Pizza the other day. Looking for a shorter wait for pizza, I headed down the street to La Botega, where a friend and I grabbed the last table only moments before the place filled to the brim.
Later that night, I had to wait patiently for my favorite seat at the Minturn Country Club bar to open up … a family of three from New Jersey, a family of five from Dayton Ohio, and a family from Mexico City were among those who crowded the grill at that storied steakhouse that evening.
All over the Valley I have seen small examples of failed businesses – shuttered windows, clearance sales, and grim explanations from business owners who have been hit hard by the economy.
But I have heard far more stories of success … far too many to list here. Even a few have come from the Real Estate sector, where friends have whispered of happily closed deals.
And a few have come from the building sector, where only a handful of projects remain for an army of contractors to claim.
Some sectors have been hit hard through no fault of their own (architects are the first to come to mind).
Others sectors are reaping what they have sowed.
So, after speaking with roughly 250 business owners in the course of a few weeks, what have I learned?
1) Value: Those who are offering something valuable are still selling it, and those people with money are still buying – so long as the service/object/idea is offered at fair value.
2) Conservative growth: Those companies which grew too big too fast are downsizing just as quickly … but just as the tortoise always beats the proverbial hare, the wise old spendthrifts are keeping a steady stride on these rough economic roads.
3) Smart marketing: Those who advertise will thrive, but in an ever-changing media world, the tired old methods will not work.
Above and beyond all this, driving the economy of Vail and Beaver Creek with untiring strength, is one thing and one thing only: The Epic Pass.
The Pass has filled our streets, but its effect goes beyond money.
Some Epic Pass holders may not be spending as much as they were in the past or perhaps they are spending more carefully.
But their presence brings vitality to our town, and vitality is contagious, bringing a sense of life to everyone here, cheering us up, making this place feel a bit brighter, more optimistic.
And in these times, a true sense of optimism may be the most valuable commodity around.
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