Bring on the mannequins (and statues and furniture and … )
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Town Council members are cautiously optimistic they won’t see T-shirts flapping in the breeze, cheap trinkets in boxes and racks of clothes cluttering the sidewalks after agreeing Tuesday night to relax ordinances regulating outdoor displays of merchandise.
The ordinance is expected to be presented for first reading at the July 23 town council meeting.
Town leaders, prompted by merchants, enacted ordinances throughout the 1990s that addressed outdoor displays of merchandise. The laws were written after complaints that Main Street was starting to look like a garage sale.
“I remember what the town looked like,” said Holly Robb, owner of Holly’s Pizzazz on Ski Hill Road. “How the town looks is very important to us. All we want to do is enhance our storefronts, give our businesses an individual personality. Give us a chance to prove we’ve grown as a community. Give us the benefit of a doubt. Give us the chance to prove we have brains.”
The existing ordinance prohibits outdoor displays of merchandise in the downtown core, with the exception of Christmas tree sales, bike rentals, seasonal plants, items of historical significance, sculptures and statues.
Council members agreed to allow outdoor displays on a trial basis until October, at which point they will re-examine how it worked.
“Word is getting out if they abuse it, it’ll go away,” said Town Manager Tim Gagen. “They have the chance. This will be the test to find out. We’re cautiously optimistic the merchants will take it seriously and come up with something classy.”
Some merchants have said in recent town council meetings they need to do something to prop up sagging retail sales, and they believe animating their storefronts would be a good way to entice customers into the shops. Those who have attended town worksessions have said repeatedly they don’t want Main Street to look like a giant garage sale any more than do town leaders. And boutique owners, in particular, want to have the same rights to display merchandise on their private property as do bike stores and art galleries.
Some of the difficulty has been in coming to a consensus about what looks trashy and what looks classy.
Most merchants agree a chair outside Marty Lessow’s kids’ clothing store should be permitted. Others agree chainsaw-carved bears add a whimsical character to real estate shops along Main Street. Many like Robb’s seasonal dolls, including Uncle Sam in July, Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny in the spring, Santa over the Christmas holidays and a mermaid during what Robb calls “mermaid season.”
Others fear relaxing the ordinances will open a Pandora’s box.
“I am very concerned about retail sales, but if we think putting this kind of thing on the street to attract more people is the solution, we’re wrong,” said Gary Booker, who owns Rock, Paper, Scissors in Main Street Station. “We’ll be fighting over the scraps that are already here when we should be working to get more people here.”
“I think this is a quagmire,” said Councilmember Dave Hinton. “We created these rules for a reason. We don’t want to look like a damn garage sale. This is a stop-gap measure that won’t net any significant benefit.”
Town officials also agreed to modify the town code to allow remote radio broadcasts on a limited basis. Merchants hosting such events will be required to obtain a permit and keep equipment and activity on private property. An individual merchant will only be permitted to host two outdoor broadcasts each year.
The New Rules
– One display, on private property
– Mannequins will be allowed to sport one full ensemble of clothing
– Merchandise must be something the store sells
– Merchandise cannot be hung from a hangar or in a tree
– Displays cannot obstruct foot traffic to the business or block views of other stores
– No signs are allowed on the displays
– No tables, boxes or racks can be used to
– Displays are banned from parking and loading areas
– Displays must be moved indoors when the business closes
– Displays must be removed when they become a hazard (windy days) or when they are in disrepair
Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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