Managers, town leaders debate mall’s impact on local business
SILVERTHORNE – Colorado Mills opens in Lakewood today, and while it’s generating excitement in the metro area, its addition to the retail market is getting a lukewarm reception in Silverthorne and Dillon.Twenty-four of the shops now at Denver’s newest mall already exist at the Silverthorne Factory Stores. Across the town border in Dillon, four shops at the Mills are duplicated.While Silverthorne Factory Stores co-owner Sam Brown and several factory stores managers say they don’t think Colorado Mills presents a threat to their business, those outside the industry aren’t so sure.Colorado Mills is located 50 miles from Silverthorne just off I-70 on West Colfax Avenue. The project is a 1.2 million-square-foot mall with 200 retailers, including outlets, off-price shops, restaurants, a skate park and movie theater.The Mills is no small retail force. The company’s portfolio now includes 13 shopping malls in 11 other states. Its shopping malls in two of those states rank as the No. 1 or No. 2 tourist attractions, and they expect the Lakewood site to perform similarly.In Silverthorne, the town garners about 22 percent of its sales tax revenues from the factory stores, making the complex a valuable asset to the town and raising some concern among town leaders about the Mills’ potential impact.”I don’t think it’s going to be positive,” said Mayor Lou DelPiccolo. “The consumer is a very volatile elephant.”I think we have some significant advantages here – a splendid location that allows people to have a good shopping experience. What they’re trying to do (at the Mills) is make the shopping experience entertainment, which in effect means chaos. Some people might get turned off by that. They might be very happy throbbing at the night club, but maybe not at the shopping mall.”Town Finance Director Donna Braun said she expects to see some downturn in factory stores’ revenues because of Colorado Mills.”My opinion would be that a lot of the shoppers are local, but the majority are tourists who are usually up here for other reasons already,” she said. “Some of that might change initially. It’s still a matter of how people want to use their time. It is 50 minutes to an hour away from here.”More the town’s concern would be losing a few leases to them,” she added.At Dillon Town Hall, Manager Jack Benson said concerns about Colorado Mills’ impact have been raised.”I don’t think anybody has an answer,” he said, adding that the biggest threat comes from Denver day skiers who now may opt to shop at the Mills instead of in Silverthorne. “A lot of it is going to depend on how our tourism season goes. If we get a lot of people visiting our community, they’re going to use our stores.”Brown, like others in the community, believes the shopper market for the Mills is very different from Silverthorne’s.”If we do our job, it shouldn’t have a dramatic effect,” he said. “Only part of the Mills is even discount.”We’ve got some of the best brands in the nation, and they don’t,” Brown said, specifically pointing to Nike, Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne, J Crew and the Gap.While Brown said total sales in Silverthorne were down last year, that wasn’t across the board. During a recent sales contest, Brown said 34 of the factory stores involved outperformed their previous year’s record, while 24 were down.Like Brown, Eddie Bauer manager Crystal Heroux said the fact Summit County’s economy is based on tourism will keep the factory stores alive and healthy.”I don’t think people come up here to shop anyway,” she said. “They come up here, and while they’re here, they go shopping. I don’t think we’re going to drop in volume at all. We have four outlets within 50 miles of each other, and they’re all doing great.”Another plus for Silverthorne, said Osh Kosh B’Gosh assistant manager Lelenna Ekren, is much of the factory store business comes from the west.”The majority of our business comes from the Grand Junction area, and they’re not going to go all the way down (to Denver),” she said.Currently, the Silverthorne Factory Stores complex -which has space for about 80 stores -is peppered with vacancies. The vacancy rate there now stands at an estimated 20 percent, according to town officials.Some factory stores managers say the vacancies are more of a concern to them than the new mall.”On our side alone, there are at least six vacancies,” Ekren said. “That doesn’t help at all.”The thing is, nobody is wanting to spend a lot of money anymore. Even if they come out here, they’re not shopping like they used to.”Commercial real estate broker Eddie O’Brien encouraged Silverthorne’s leaders to get behind the factory stores and help keep them a vibrant part of the town’s economy.”They’re still producing a lot of revenue for the town of Silverthorne, and Silverthorne needs to protect that, any way they can,” he said. “You just don’t say we’ll have Target and Safeway and everything will be OK. You just don’t replace something. You build a good asset, and you support it.”Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org—Redundant Retail?—Silverthorne factory storesat Colorado MillsEddie BauerClaire’sKB ToysBig DogWilson’sTommy HilfigerCarter’sLeviOsh Kosh B’GoshGeoffrey BeeneVan HeusenVitamin WorldSilverheels JewelryBassNine WestWatch WorksMikasaCasual CornerDress BarnJones New York CountryL’eggsMaidenformHarry & DavidRocky Mountain Chocolate Factory—Dillon stores at Colorado MillsNauticaPier 1BordersGart Sports
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