'Critical' time for downtown

Main Street solicits feedback on possible formula restrictions


Past Event

Formula store ordinance meeting

  • Wednesday, March 14, 2007, 3:30 p.m.
  • Bank of the West, 555 Lincoln Avenue, Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free



Lesley Elliott, the regional manager for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, makes caramel apples at the store Monday afternoon. A proposed city ordinance could place regulations on future formula stores in Steamboat Springs.

— There are strong opinions on both sides when it comes to imposing restrictions on so-called formula stores.

That's good, because opinions are what Main Street Steamboat Springs wants.

Opinions range "all the way from 'we don't want formula stores here' to 'let free enterprise reign,'" said Tracy Barnett, program director for Main Street.

Main Street is soliciting feedback from members so the organization can form an official opinion on a proposed city ordinance that would regulate formula stores. The city's preliminary definition of a formula store is a store or restaurant among a chain of 10 or more that contains these features: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized façade, standard decor and color scheme, uniforms for employees, and standard signage along with a trademark.

The ordinance goes into much more detail about all of those qualities.

Main Street Steamboat Springs is hosting a discussion on the proposed ordinance at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Bank of the West, 555 Lincoln Ave. Barnett asks anyone interested in the meeting to RSVP by calling 846-1800.

Downtown already has a limited number of stores that meet the formula-store definition, said senior city planner Jonathan Spence. They include Overland Sheepskin, Images of Nature, Fuzziwig's Candy Factory, Great Outdoor Clothing, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Blimpie Subs and Salads.

The draft ordinance does not propose barring new formula stores from opening in Steamboat.

Restrictions being considered include regulating where new formula stores can be located, as to avoid a concentration of them. There would be design standards the stores would have to meet including rules for store signs.

Brad Maxwell owns the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Steamboat. Although his chocolate store franchise would be considered a formula store, the Steamboat ordinance would not affect him because it is an existing business. But Maxwell says he has encountered formula store restrictions before in Telluride, and he thinks they are important to preserve the "small town feel," which Steamboat still has.

"If it's done properly - like with managing the signage - I don't really have a problem with restricting these formula stores," Maxwell said, adding there will still be a reason for formula stores to locate to Steamboat.

"You have to give the people that come to Steamboat what they want," Maxwell said.

Many people, including Maxwell and Overland Sheepskin manager Brian Day believe formula stores benefit downtown because they attract people.

"Most people see us as a draw," Day said of Overland's 13 stores. "It's the fact we are located in vacation destinations."

The conversation about future formula stores in Steamboat was spurred by the nearly 90,000-square-feet of new commercial space planned for downtown. To visualize that much space, imagine 18 times the space occupied by the 5,000 square foot F.M. Light & Sons sales floor.

"If the town wants to do anything, now is the time," said Ty Lockhart of F.M. Light & Sons. "People do not want the Gaps and the Ralph Laurens, but then there is the question of how many 'mom and pops' will be able to afford that new space.

"The juncture we are at right now is very critical."


another_local 10 years, 2 months ago

I do not think Telluride has a formula ordinance. No doubt they have strict building codes, but my understanding is that they have no conditional use process related to formula business.


dogd 10 years, 2 months ago

You do whatever it takes to keep this place a TOWN. Free trade is not an ideal more important than the ideal which is the concept of a Town. Sometimes people abuse the word' freedom'. To bring out that magic word in defense of mega-business is not an honorable thing to do.


twoducksrock 10 years, 2 months ago

mega-business or home grown, let's look at what we're doing to the youngin's in Steamboat.

It really seems like the two biggest money makers in town after 10pm is drinking and the police - who arrest those who have fallen prey to speed traps and what else would anyone would be doing after 11pm - if not drinking.

Steamboat, I'm afraid, is getting a reputation for being a drinking town. It's a nice place to be, but aren't we as a community responsible for setting the tone for more positive things for the general population to do -- other than just drinking and getting arrested?

The town as a whole, should get together and find more positive things for the people to do. Without drinking and smoking, it seems the place would be a ghost town.

It behooves businesses - whether mega-business or locals - to take a serious look at the underlying image that is being portrayed about Steamboat after dark.


agentofchange 10 years, 2 months ago

Business needs to be "Creative, not Restrictive". All of this is so subjective.

The idea that bringing in more choice will destroy this "town" is absurb.

Oh, keep out the competition. Yes, that's the spirit of free enterprise all right !! Yes, I will say it again: "SHERMAN ANTI-TRUST ACT".

In my Business, I fight resistance to free trade from National Chains (and others) every day... it keeps me on my toes, very competitive and creative.

What we have here are some local Business people who want to restrict free trade. (and it is restriction of free trade, no matter how you portray it) That's who Main St. is. That's who the Pilot is inverviewing and quoting. What about the consumer ?? The consumer is the one who shops. No one asked the consumer what stores they want or don't want. Get it? No please no Pilot, don't bring out a "select few" man on the street interviews. That is not a Demograghic Study.

I can tell you who will be looking at our demographics... the experts, who's business it is to place a store in a certain area or not. They give it thought, a lot of thought. They do that because they are bringing expensive resourses to a "town", with a view to make a profit. If the "town" fits the bill, they come, if not: they stay away, get it?

Frankly, the City (our City) should be spending it's energy on "Foating a Bond Issue" in order to build the much needed parking structures (yes I said structure(S)) "Downtown", so that whoever wants to shop or dine, at whatever Business is open, can actually do so. Oh no not that ??!

So, do your level best Downtown Business people, and restrict trade. I'll congratulate you the next time I see you in WALMART, CITY MARKET, or SAFEWAY !!


another_local 10 years, 2 months ago

Agent, You are mistaken about where the push for this is coming from and the position taken by Main Street. Reading the paper, that is easy to do. You should attend the meeting Wed afternoon and share your views. You may be surprised at who agrees with you.


housepoor 10 years, 2 months ago

They probably should of thought of this before approving 90,000 sq feet of additional space.......Who do they think is capable of filling that space other than formual stores?


bluebird 10 years, 2 months ago

The most unfair competition for many local businesses is our very own Ski Corp. They run Central Reservations so can book their own rooms and properties first, run their own ski rental company, using their ability to provide free lift tickets to group leaders as a carrot no one else can match. When Ski Corp. goes into the property management, restaurant, retail or transportation business, every local business owner will understand that formula shops are not the only competition. Most discouraging, Ski Corp. leaders always seem to bark the "party line", so one never knows if the truth is really true - or just convenient.


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