Longtime Main Street shop Rocky Mountain Christmas closes as rent worries persist
A Main Street mainstay is closing up shop.
Rocky Mountain Christmas, a merchant of holiday-themed goods that has been on Main Street for more than 30 years, has announced that this month will be its last. Julianne Rosen-Carone, owner of the shop, cited a significant looming rent increase as the reason for closing.
The news comes at a time of change on Main Street, when fears are escalating that more and more small retailers, unable to keep pace with the rapidly rising cost of rent in the area, will be forced out in coming years.
"We would have been underwater," Rosen-Carone said. "With the new rent increase, it just put us in a financial position that we couldn’t make work."
Alison Kuhlow-Butz, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents Main Street businesses, expressed concern over Rocky Mountain Christmas’s closure. Kuhlow-Butz is among those leading talks with City Hall about the risks small merchants face as Main Street changes and becomes more attractive to larger retailers.
"We’re sad to see them go," she said. "Losing stores like this is the reason we’re having these big discussions about the tenant mix. We want to make sure we can preserve a variety of stores on Main Street that will continue to draw everyone, whether they be locals or visitors, to the area."
This is not the first time increasing rent has been a problem for Rosen-Carone, who took ownership of the shop in 2006. She said she fought to keep rent reasonable at the store’s longtime location in the former Main Street Mall. But when a developer sought to turn the location into what has become The Parkite building, she was forced to move to the current spot, at 523 Main St., where her rent nearly doubled.
"We had hoped that the sales would increase down here because it’s a more central spot of the street, and the economy going up and Vail (Resorts) coming in," she said. "But that didn’t really happen. Our sales are still good, but they’re essentially flat."
Though the brick-and-mortar shop is closing, Rosen-Carone is hoping to keep the business alive online and through local boutique and market events near the holidays. She’s considered moving to someplace like Redstone, but that would necessitate a shift in her tourist-reliant business model. She is also continuing to look for any small, affordable spaces that become available on Main Street.
But Rosen-Carone knows she may never find one. And for someone who bought the shop in the first place partly out of a desire to keep Main Street local, it’s a sobering reality. In recent weeks, her customers have shared in her disappointment.
"We have so many customers who are just devastated," she said. "One of the things we do here is customize family ornaments, personalizing the names and years. People have been coming here 20 years to get their family ornament for the year. I’ve been personalizing so many ornaments for 2016, 2017, 2018 because they know they’re not going to be able to come back and get them."
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