So many new businesses are popping up in the Willits commercial center that even the most entrenched Aspenites might consider driving past their town’s roundabout. Joining a pair of new restaurants in the six-building complex are a trio of recently opened boutiques. Even the Aspen Skiing Company has jumped into the fray with a small shop of custom branded mementos in the lobby of the center’s Element Hotel.
“There is a local entrepreneurial excitement in the midvalley right now,” says Tim Belinski, spokesperson for the developer of Willits Town Center. “We have a sophisticated customer base here, and Willits is really coming of age.”
Here’s the lowdown on the retail newcomers:
Catherine Maas’s parents were teachers, and, in a way, her new store, Bookbinders, is an homage to them. The compact space, located next to Midland Clothing Company, carries titles in English and Spanish, as well as gifts and toys. Says Maas, who had long wanted to open a bookstore, “This was the right time and the right community. I want Bookbinders to be a place where [locals] congregate. Reading is how people make sense of the world, grow their minds, and learn about healthy lifestyles.” 760 E. Valley Rd., bookbindersbasalt.com
2. The Loft
First-time business owner Christina O’Hara likes to say she offers Aspen fashion at downvalley prices. The styles at her women’s clothing boutique, The Loft, range from casual to dressy and suit a variety of ages. “I really enjoy finding the most current fashion-forward pieces to bring here,” says O’Hara. Inventory at the store, which opened a year ago, includes brands like Joie, Equipment, and Spiritual Gangster, as well as a large selection of premium denim from Frame, DL 1961, and more. 261 Harris St.
Hollyann, open since the end of May, is 2,000 square feet of happiness. The boutique, located between new restaurants Mezzaluna and Capitol Creek Brewery, evokes the eclectic assortment of an Anthropologie. Owned by Holly and David Willson, who moved to Aspen three years ago from Overland Park, Kansas, the store is a tribute to their current home. “I wanted to give something back to the community that has embraced my family,” says Holly. “I had so much fun personally choosing everything.” Those wares include women’s clothing, gifts, home décor, and greeting cards. Just as pleasing as the selection are the moderate prices. As for that instant mood lift the store gives off, it’s no accident. Says Holly, “Everything in the store is super positive by design.” 361 Market St., shophollyann.com