A diary of some of Allen and Janice Bukoff's retail transactions
while on vacation in Telluride, Colorado,
January 27 - February 3, 2003.

[If you print this out, print it on "landscape"]


Main Street, Telluride, Colorado, USA

Old West mining town turned ski resort destination. Location of first bank robbed by Butch Cassidy.
Population = approximately 2000. Elevation = 8,750 feet.

"A National Historic Landmark District with Victorian-era architecture, Telluride is nestled in a box canyon at the base of the Telluride Ski Mountain, surrounded by 13,000' peaks. The picturesque San Miguel River and river trail wind through town joining Town Park with the historic train depot. The town is less than one mile long so all accommodations are just a short walk to Main Street shops and restaurants or to the two ski lifts and the year-round gondola accessing the mountain."

Mountain Village, Telluride, Colorado, USA

Resort area further up in mountains above Telluride. Accessible by road or gondola.

"European-style Mountain Village is at 9,450' and overlooks some of the most magnificent peaks in the San Juans. The center of skiing operations and the children's ski school, the 92-acre Village core offers ski in/ski out accommodations, lift ticket windows, equipment rentals, restaurants and shops as well as easy access to some of the region's most spectacular cross-country skiing and snow shoeing trails. Also a world-class summer resort, the Village boasts an 18-hole championship golf course and 3,000 acres of National Forest for hiking and biking." -

Telluride, Colorado, retail shopping grid.

The only pharmacy in town is one of many T-shirt stores

Sunshine Pharmacy
236 W. Colorado Avenue
Telluride, Colorado
Rx (970) 728 1365
Since 1975
Purchased some shaving cream (I forgot to bring some) and a 5x7-inch paper paper notepad (something that would fit in my coat pocket that I could record my retail pulse interviews on).

$7.49  (total with tax)

I normally buy, use and prefer an aerosol shaving cream, but because I am traveling, I wanted something less bulky and smaller.  Bought Neutrogena brand of this squeeze-tube-type shaving cream because it is a brand I know and like.

Many products squeezed together in an old-fashioned store

Like most main street Telluride stores: A little old-fashioned store with old-fashioned display cases in an old fashioned building. A pharmacy and variety store plus a T-shirt store all squeezed into a long, narrow space. Shelves and display cases are packed with lots of merchandise carefully squeezed onto old shelves--on one half of the store--stretching from front to back. The other half of the store is clothing...mostly T-shirts for tourists. Retail strategy appears to be to cover as many possibilities as possible. Kids toys, for example, are tightly stacked on one wall along the back of the store. Owner said that section is for Christmas when people are in town and need to find a present for a child. The pharmacy is the only one in town, next closest one is more than an hour away, so pharmacist has to learn to stock all the prescription medications needed by the local citizens as well as by the seasonal residents.

Bill Clinton's favorite Super Bowl Ad

Struck up conversation with owner/pharmacist, Mark Watenpaugh. When I told him I worked in advertising; he said he had a good friend who worked in advertising in Minneapolis. Said his friend had helped create the (EDS) Super Bowl ad from a few years ago where cowboys are herding cats. "My friend told me that's Bill Clinton's favorite ad!"

Quality dogs made with a thermometer

Diggity Dogs
mobile food stand operating year round
in front of the San Miguel County Courthouse*
305 W. Colorado Ave.
Telluride, Colorado 81435
Also have a second mobile stand
operating in courtyard of Mountain Village

*Janice and I were married in the San Miguel County Courthouse on February 4, 1998.
Janice and I each had a Sheboygan Bratwurst and Diet Cokes in cans. I then ordered and ate a second dog, a Fatty Dog. We were excited to find this vendor, because we have developed a fetish for grilled (Johnsonville Bratwurst...and the cook said his "Sheboygan Bratwurst" are Johnsonville brand (Sheboygan and Johnsonville, Wisconsin, are about 10 miles apart).

$14.00  (total--no tax on food?)

Keeping an eye on main street...and the dirt pimps.

Eric Koehler (originally from Wisconsin) has been working the Diggity Dogg stand for five years.  The secret of Diggity Doggs:  good quality meat and they stick a cooking thermometer in the dog to determine when it is ready to serve.  "They're already cooked, but I don't think they taste right unless their hot all the way through."  Eric provides verbal entertainment to customers and passersby.  "Hey, I'm trying to close here!  Where were all you people between 1 and 4 today?!"  Told Eric I was originally from Iowa.  His reply:  "Nobody's from Iowa!"

Many locals frequent this stand.  "Best food in town for the price."  

Eric says that it's real hard for most businesses to make it on Main Street in Telluride because the store rents are so high.  "Clothing stores can get away with a high mark-up" but it's very hard for other dry goods folks to make it.  The only people really making money are the Real Estate Agents..."the dirt pimps."

Retail philosophy: "Be nice or leave"

We interrogated Eric about his world of Retail and about Main Street Retail in Telluride.  When asked about his personal philosophy of doing business, Eric points to the magnetic sign on his napkin dispenser and says "If everyone is nice.  Everything works out."  

Diggity Doggs rents its sidewalk spot--"kitchen space"--from the Town of Telluride.  Gets regular inspections and a permit to operate from the Health Inspector.  Rents storage space from the San Miguel County Courthouse (where it stores its mobile stand and supplies at night).  

Cowboy store to the stars

Bounty Hunter
226 West Colorado Avenue
Telluride, Colorado 81435

Capturing the American West in Handmade Hats, Boots, Clothing & Accessories

If you aren't a little impulsive, you'll never own a good hat
One pair of McKenzie Tribe denim jeans. I bought one of my favorite winter coats, a McKenzie Tribe coat, here about six years ago. Thought I'd try a pair of their jeans. Janice and I always visit Bounty Hunter several or more times when in Telluride and always buy a couple of things (but never a hat or a belt buckle...what they are really known for).

$102.98 total ($95.00 + 7.98 tax/8.4%)

The Bounty Hunter is this very small cool cowboy hats & belts & boots store that also carries mens' and womens' coats and clothing. An amazing number of famous people have been in here and have had a 100% beaver cowboy hat handmade for themselves (at $800 to $1000+). The walls are covered with signed photos from everyone from Oliver Stone to Norman Schwarzkopf to Cheryl Crow to the Gatlin Brothers. Allen: "So how do you deal with all these famous people?" Ann M (behind the counter): "Treat 'em the same as everybody else."

I'm not into cowboy hats, or boots, or belts but I always love to check out their unique leather coats and western jackets.  Bradley: "Where are you from?" [most frequent starter-question from Telluride salespeople].  Allen: "Detroit."  Bradley:  "Bill Ford was in here a couple of weeks ago and bought a coat."

Telluride and Retail Chain Stores

I asked the two employees waiting on us how business was going for them.  "A little off."  For the first time, Bounty Hunter has Main Street competition in leather coats.  Overlands, a retail chain has opened a big store down the street selling a huge selection of furs, leather coats, and sheepskins. As one of the employee's groused, "The city wasn't supposed to let any chain stores in here, but I guess they let Overland's in because they are supposedly 'family owned'.  But they are a chain."  

Bradley at Bounty Hunter

High Camp. Monopoly. High Prices.

High Camp
Rest stop, weather shelter, and refreshment store
at the top of Prospect Bowl, Lift 12.
Elevation 11,815 feet.
Several times, I stopped in here for a break and bought a KMX energy drink. The prices of everything are high here at High Camp. That's what you would expect in a market economy with no local competition, right?

$4.75 (no tax)

...but social pressure brings prices down a little

An interesting outpost in the world of retail business. This place is run by one employee. It has a limited selection of stuff at high prices. Over the course of my vacation, I chatted up the several different employees who take turns working up here. Asked one of these guys if this "store" was actually making any money here or whether it was mostly a "service" being provided to the skiers on the mountain. His reply, "At these prices, we should be making money!" He told me that High Camp is operated under contract to Telluride Ski and Golf Company by the same company that provides the dining services at several other locations in the ski resort.
High Camp opened last year.  Originally the only water available was bottled water for purchase.  They now provide free drinking water.  High Camp has also recently lowered its prices.  How--in the absence of market mechanisms like competition--did this happen?  According to the employees, this was done in response to criticism--especially from "the locals." The locals developed a sense of what seems reasonable or "fair" based on the other prices charged at the other dining facilities this company runs on the mountain.  Not providing free water (vs. only expensive bottled water) was deemed to be "unreasonable."  High Camp's prices on their other items have also been judged to be in the "unreasonable" range.  This created a negative social pressure on the employees (who are part of this local community).  At least one employee turned around and brought this "pressure" to bear on the management and successfully lobbied for lower prices (at least 25- to 50-cents lower on many items and up to a $1 lower con the sandwiches). 

One of the "headaches" for the people running High Camp is to guess how many supplies to bring up to this outpost every morning from the dining facilties lower down the mountain.  They don't have a lot of space to store stuff up here, so a lot of the perishable food (sandwiches, rice krispy treats) has to be re-stocked everyday.  Employees find it difficult to anticipate the demand -- it seems to vary unpredictably everyday.  So some days they run out of sandwiches too fast and other days they wind up throwing too many sandwiches away. 

You can't be closed! I bought my first ski suit here.

This sign in the window made me realize that one of the "traditions" Janice and I have developed is shopping/visiting the Jagged Edge store in Telluride. Not this vacation. Sometimes you don't know something is a "tradition" until you can't do it. Visiting a store a vacation tradition--who would have thought?

Shelley doesn't have kids. We don't have kids. What are we all doing at a kids clothing store?

The Attic
part of Telluride Trappings & Toggery (see further below)
109 E. Colorado Ave
Telluride , Colorado 81435
Phone: (970)728-3338

We didn't buy anything.  Just interviewed Shelley about the store.

Shelley was probably the first person we ever met in Telluride.   She used to work the front desk at Hotel Columbia where we always stay. Shelley still stops by the Columbia Hotel to visit people--where we ran into her on this visit and found out that she is now managing a kids clothing store on Main Street.
*[Shelley grew up in Flint, Michigan.  Two of the owners of the Hotel grew up in Franklin & Bloomfield Hills, Michigan--so Janice and I (who live in Birmingham, Michigan) always manage to work a little small talk around the "Michigan connection."

There are two other kids' clothing stores in Telluride.  One is an upscale boutique and the other focuses more on kids' outdoor active wear.    The Attic covers everyday kids' clothes--in between these two other stores.  "We all have our niche."  That's one way little stores survive in a small town...not by a monopoly but by a strong niche.  

The US economy has been faltering.  How's business here in Telluride?  Seeing fewer people coming to town?  Less shopping?  Smaller purchases?  Shelley:  "Business is slow.  Down about 10% from a year ago.  And January is always slow anyway.  It's the slowest resort month...regrouping after the holidays."  "People are looking for bargains more than before.  And good quality."

Shelley's dog Cameo likes to hang around work

Retail dog

Hunting down the closest de-fogger cloth

Telluride Sports
560 Mountain Village Blvd
(one of their many locations though out Telluride and Mountain Village) Telluride, Colorado

Great Gear, Great People, Great Locations
Wearing goggles today. One problem with goggles is that they steam up. During lunch break, Janice and I went looking for something to prevent fogging. I had a cloth for this back at the hotel but had forgotten to bring it with me. First store I walked into directed to me to their sister outlet around the corner. They had Smith No Fog Cloth behind the counter.

$2.21 (total with tax)

Smiling Czech. Depressed? Paranoid?

Meet Tomas.  He has an accent.
Where are you from? "Czech Republic."
How long have you been working here? Tomas: "This season."
What is the worst thing about your job? "Nothing."
What is the best thing about your job? "Nothing."
I left the store with my no-fog cloth (easy retail transaction) but unsure of how to interpret my conversation with Tomas (unclear interaction).

Get your photo taken on the slopes
and look like a pro

Cold Smoke Photography
562 Mt. Village Blvd.
Telluride, CO 81435
(970) 728-3780
From a proof sheet of more than a dozen photos of me with my snowboard, Janice selected seven photographic prints (three at 4 x 6-inch and four 5 x 7-inch). Photos received at home by mail the following week.

$166.00 for 7 photographic prints (includes $6.00 shipping and handling charge for mailing)
$7.50 for battery for my digital camera (a separate transaction).

Janice looking at the proof sheet

They take your picture on the slope.  I had done this before, so I knew how this worked:  you stop and ask them, they take your picture in various scenic poses, then later back at their Mountain Village store you review a proof sheet of the negatives and select which pictures you want printed--how many at what size.  

The Cold Smoke operation does not seem to be too excited about the digital age.  Only one of their photographers uses a digital camera.  They are not set up to sell you a digital copy of any of their photographs (which could be easily produced by a camera or even a scan of the photographic negative or print).  I would prefer to get copies of these pictures in digital form so that I can just email them to family and friends , which is the primary way that I share photographs now (and has been for the last five years).  When these guys can get $25.00 for a 5" x 7" print, I guess they don't have a lot of incentive to go digital and make it easier for others to make their own copies for free.  It will be interesting to see how long they can hold out against the digital age.

We actually bought a digital battery here on two separate occasions from two different salespeople.  The first time the guy charged us $7.50 (which was actually lower than what I normally pay for these type of batteries).  No price was marked on the product. The second time Janice bought one, a different salesperson tried to charge her $10.00.  When Janice pointed out that we had bought one there a couple of days before for $7.50, the guy rang it up for $7.50 and said something like "I don't really know what the price of these are."  A little demonstration about the importance of marking prices on products.

Fine clothes for mountain folks

Telluride Trappings & Toggery
109 E. Colorado Ave
Telluride , Colorado 81435
Phone: (970)728-3338
Janice bought me a pair of Dansko clogs ("All the rage in Beverly Hills" -- which a customer in the store from LA overheard and verified)--which she wanted me to get--and a thick Marc Baxis outer shirt with "Powder Club TELLURIDE" embossed on the back--which I wanted to get.
$256.91 total with tax both items
shoes $89.00 + $7.48 tax
shirt $148.00 + $12.43 tax

An really cool old-fashioned store. Modern, trendy goods in a 100-year-old building. Women's store on one side. Men's store on the other. Kids store (The Attic) upstairs (separate entrance outside). Which does more business? "The women's store." Why? "Well women are either shopping for themselves, or they'll also buy something for themselves if they are shopping for someone else too."

Jodi loves her job

Jodi grew up in Wyoming.  Moved to Telluride in 1997 when she was 19 and started working at Telluride Trappings and Toggery.  She left for a while but then returned to work here because she missed it so much.  What have you learned about retail?  "I've learned so much!  Displays, pricing...everything."

They have an eye for trends in knives and axes

We asked Jodi what's popular...what are the biggest trends in what you are selling?
"Ugg boots, Dansko clogs...for both men and women."  And then she started showing us the expensive and trendy knives and axes in their retail display case.  "One guy came in here, and he was so impressed that we had Laguiole knives that he bought a whole set."  Laguiole knives are made in France, are very expensive (set of 7 is $600 here), and are "surgically sharp."  Telluride Trappings and Toggery even carries trendy axes, Gränsfors Bruks axes, handmade in Sweden.  Who said modern "mountain men" aren't slaves to fashion?!

Old hippie bakery in a barn

Baked In Telluride
127 South Fir
Telluride, CO 81435
"Ski the best bagel in the west" (What??)

Two small coffees and two cookies.  Janice and I have developed a habit of stopping in here late afternoon (after I returned from snowboarding) for coffee and cookies. 
$4.90  (no tax)

Great cookies, coffee, bread...

Baked in Telluride specializes in homemade baked breads, bagels, pastries, pizza, sandwiches and soup. Homemade pasta dinner served nightly. It's external and internal ambiance has always screamed "hippie refuge" to me--it has a vegetarian and head store vibe--and I suspect that it was started and is run by someone who came here as a hippie in the 60 or 70ss.  I like this place.  A great smelling place to have a cup of coffee and relax.

Habla español?

I decided to interview the cashier about her retail experiences.  The interview didn't go very far, because it turns out that Maribel (whom I made spell out her name for me) and I had some difficulty communicating.  Her English was better than my Spanish, but I gave up pretty quickly, especially after I found out that she had only worked there one month.  How much have you learned about retail?  Maribel: quizical look.  How much have you learned working here?  Maribel:  "A lot."  There are many Spanish-speaking people (many of them Mexican immigrants) working in Telluride--mostly in blue collar, custodial, and service positions.  Maribel and I had had no trouble, however, when conducting our retail transaction.  That involved a cash register, numbers, and money exchanged--little conversation actually required.

Snowboard specialists

Slope Style
Mountain Village
Telluride, Colorado
Rider Owned, Rider Focused, Rider Driven.
Snowboards and funwear.
The only full-service specialty snowboard and accessory shop in Telluride

[How many taglines and slogans do these guys have?)
Seven-days rental of snowboard with boots and bindings.

$184.80 total ($168.00 + $16.80 or 10% tax)

 Photo by Cold Smoke Photography

In the past I have rented my equipment at another shop in Telluride, but they didn't have my boot size this time. The guys at my usual store told me they are getting out of the boarding business (skiing only), and referred me to Slope Style (a rental shop and retail equipment and clothing store focusing only on snow boards. These guys were helpful--in a laid-back "stoner" fashion that seems to be typical of ski rental shops. I discovered that the guy whom I always take snowboard lessons from is listed as one of their advisers, so I took that as an additional recommendation. On the second day, I came back in with a cracked binding. They replaced it--no problem.

Helping the boarding community get it right

Brad has worked here since the beginning of this ski season.  It's his first job in retail.  What does he like most about his job?  "Get to talk to a lot of people...helping them them the right way to do things."  Toughest part of his job?  "Super slow days where no one comes in for eight hours.  Take up time with projects like tagging the merchandise, folding clothes, etc." 

Other retail purchases and expenditures made on or because of this trip--not covered above: Plane tickets (from Detroit to Houston to Montrose, CO, and back). Ground transportation from home to airport, and airport to hotel and back. Ski-lift ticket for 6.5 days, seven nights hotel (two at The Peaks Resort in Mountain Village and five at Colombia Hotel in town). Spa & spa treatments. Seven lunches & seven dinners all eaten out at restaurants (breakfasts were provided by hotels). Groceries for our hotel room: Diet Coke, bottled water, wine, microwave popcorn, chips, & black licorice. Beverages & snacks while skiing & shopping. Men's shirts, antique wooden butter urn, books and women's boots.


February 22, 2003

Thanks to Janice Bukoff for editing.

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