Celebrating 50-plus years of being a locally owned business, Pitkin County Dry Goods owner David Fleisher stops and shares his inspiration for the clothing store, favorite products and lessons he’s learned along the way.
What inspired you and your brother Don to open Pitkin County Dry Goods?
Aspen had just a few clothing stores in 1969—there was a niche open for a contemporary casual boutique—which Don opened when he returned home from a year in L.A. where he was exposed to the contemporary and mod fashion that was happening on the West Coast. I moved to Aspen from San Francisco in 1970, needing a temporary job. Though I never planned on running a retail store or staying in Aspen long term, I always loved clothes and fashion and was inspired by several iconic, pioneering boutiques in San Francisco where I oft en shopped. When the store was essentially bankrupt in early 1971, Don gave me the project of resurrecting PCDG with my vision, and it was too tempting to pass up.
What makes your company unique to other brands and boutiques?
We have thousands of repeat customers and have become a national and international destination for two main reasons. One is our welcoming environment. Our long-tenured, amazing staff is friendly, sociable and knowledgeable. Another is that we are passionate about the product. Our buyers have a vision to search the world to create a unique, multibrand mix of contemporary and designer clothing and accessories that is difficult to find in any other one place. We are not only survivors in Aspen but also among the few remaining family-owned, multibrand fashion stores in the country.
What has been the most rewarding lesson you have learned along the way?
The most rewarding is watching people grow and learn in their positions and responsibilities. We’ve had several former staff open their own businesses. Every year we have many returning high school and college students on staff for the holidays and summer season. The business itself has been a mentor for hundreds of present and former staff.
How would you describe the importance of locally owned businesses?
Extremely important. Most nonlocal businesses can be found in nearly every major city in the country. That’s boring. Tourists want a new experience when they travel. They want an emotional connection to Aspen.
Do you have a favorite style or product that you’ve sold throughout the years?
Surprising, because I don’t own one, leather shirts and jackets have always been my passion and expertise, and they still excite me when I go to market.
Adding on to that, how would you describe the Aspen style?
There is no one Aspen style. Originally it was more mountain and Western style, and today that has evolved and combined eclectically with bicoastal fashion influences.
Are there any upcoming projects or concepts that I can buzz?
Last December we partnered with the Faherty Brand to open a shop-in-shop, another family-owned business that focuses on American casual lifestyle. In the next year or two, we hope to launch an e-commerce site to better serve those who can only make it here once or twice a year, or not at all as during the pandemic. 520 E. Cooper Ave., 970.925.1681
Photography by: PHOTO BY ALEXIS AHRLING