I needed a dress for New Year's and was striking out everywhere I went in Vail. I found Blitz next to the Starbucks near the Covered Bridge. They have the most unusual, original, and price varied selection of night-out type dresses I have ever seen. I usually try on many dresses before I find one that works... I tried on about four that made me look like a million dollars. You have to visit and play dress up, even if you don't have a special occassion.
What to buy: Dresses
What to pay: For Dresses: $120 - $300
Very easy to find off of exit 168, just 11 miiles from main Vail exit. And if you hate heights and are afraid of snowy roads and are driving a strange rental car - don't worry. No scary vistas or drop offs. Exit 168 is a round about. Go 3/4 of the way around, you'll be on William J. Post Road. Stay to the left. It's in the complex with a Home Depot and there's TONS of parking. Even after major snows, they keep the interstates and parking lots well-cleared.
Your usual WalMart but LOTS of Hispanic foods! Great produce. Get a bag of apples for $4 instead of $1/apple at the East Vail City Market, etc.
What to buy: Things we ended up buying:
Precooked brats for free grills at Blue Sky Basin. Use pita bread for rolls.
Extra jug of wiper fluid for trip back to Denver
Clorox wipes for door knobs, faucets, light switches
Vitamin C, B12
Ibuprofen, aspirin (put aspirin in pocket if you're worried about a heart attack - take ONE while waiting for ski patrol!)
Sports Legs (tm) or similar
Cliff bars or other protein bars, easy snacks. You don't want to stop for lunch!
Flavored waters to make drinking water easy
Vaseline or pocket-sized hand creams
SUN LOTION for face
Carmex or chapstick
What to pay: Far, far less than at most City Markets. But City Markets take Kroger and Kessel and other chain's 'club' cards or will let you sign up on the spot.
Many sporting goods places in Vail carry approximately the same stuff. Bag and Pack is a bit different, not so much catering to the ski/bike rental crowd. They have a good selection.
What to buy: Outdoor gear.
What to pay: Vail is expensive and so is outdoor gear of the quality you find in Vail. You'll pay a lot.
One of the nicest places in Vail Village, Gorsuch caters to the rich, but is still reasonably affordable for others. They have a small coffee shop upstairs near the ski rental/purchase area, clothing on the middle floor and home furnishings in the basement. I highly recommend a walk through the store, even if you don't buy anything.
What to buy: Unique home furnishings in the basement.
What to pay: Lots. But some things are worth having.
Garvity Jones are an independant company (not like some of the resort shops), offering advice, and a wide selection of boots, skis, ski wear. Beth and Adam really know their stuff!!
What to buy: Easily the the boot fit in the valley and without getting ripped off! They wont sell you something you dont need and also guarantee their boot fits for life, not that it will be a problem!. After purcgasing boots there I was coming off the mountain and putting on my outdoor shoes that were less comfortable than my boots..
March/April is a great time to buy those demo skis that you have always wanted and I purchased a pair of goggles which were polarised and were exceptional value (over $50 less than other retailers).
For ski servicing they could not be beat either by $$ or quality of tune.
Sounds to good to be true but they really are great!
Christy's rents skis and bikes, sells boots, clothes and other essentials for the mountain. Good staff and friendly service combine to make Christy's a great place to go for anything you might need.