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Mountain News: Shrinking glaciers a concern

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The Vail Daily talked with a consultant, Denny Hill, of Strategic Resources West, which projects enrollment for school districts. Hill told the newspaper that he suspects people haven't left because there's really no compelling reason to do so. Every other place out there is in just as bad a shape. While living costs remain higher in mountain valleys, residents may tend to hang on just a little bit longer for fear of losing money when they sell houses and condominiums.

But there is evidences of decline. Births last year at Vail Valley Medical Center declined by about 100, to 620. Automobile registrations in Eagle County dropped by nearly 1,000, to about 52,000.

What does the future bode for the Vail area and other mountain valleys? "I wish my crystal ball was clear, but this economy has me scratching my head," says Hill. "There were some places that I didn't expect to grow, but which did, and some others that declined a little bit more than I had expected."

 

Recession takes toll on ski store

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. - For 40 years, the Alpineer has sold skis and other outdoor gear in Crested Butte, a town that surely loves to spend time outdoors. But it couldn't survive the Great Recession. The store has been sold to Christy Sports, a chain with 40 stores in the Rocky Mountains.

"We were pretty close to having to shut the doors," former owner Travis Underwood told the Crested Butte News . He said business was rough of late. "It's hard. Everyone wants a deal, and at 25 per cent off I was losing money."

The Alpineer occupies more of a niche market than most Christy's stores, with a greater specialization in mountaineering and backcountry equipment.

Consolidation likely to continue

ASPEN, Colo. - Although Aspen and Pitkin County were the only ski town markets to post more than $1 billion in sales last year, it's been a rough ride. Many real estate companies have closed down, and some long-term veterans think that more consolidation is on the way.

"A lot of people (at smaller firms) are holding on, anticipating a quick recovery," long-time agent Brent Waldron told the Aspen Times. Once they realize that isn't coming, he added, they will likely sign on with larger firms or put their real estate license in the closet and rely on another job.

Another agent, Craig Morris, said he is already seeing real-estate agents getting other jobs. "I've definitely seen more realtors wearing their (Aspen Skiing Co.) uniforms and waiting tables at night than ever before."

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