Business as usual? On heels of rough winter, officials welcome strong summer sales
TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; Signs of a poor economy were not in sight for some local businesses over the Labor Day weekend as people flocked to the area to enjoy the last days of summer.
Visitors packed area beaches, strolled the main streets while popping into shops and waited in lines for a seat in various eateries along the North Shore over the extended weekend.
and#8220;There are a lot more people up this year,and#8221; said Adria Silva, manager of Truckee Variety Co., a downtown Truckee store that sells everything from childrenand#8217;s toys to stationary. and#8220;Itand#8217;s like it was back five years ago.and#8221;
Silva said the storeand#8217;s sales this weekend doubled compared to Labor Day weekend last year.
and#8220;Iand#8217;m excited,and#8221; she said. and#8220;Itand#8217;s been a great Labor Day weekend with great weather and great people.and#8221;
At the lake, the Robinand#8217;s Nest, a Kings Beach store that sells everything from household items to jewelry, saw record sales this past weekend.
and#8220;Weand#8217;re up a little from last year, and last year was good,and#8221; said Carolyn Nixon, owner of the Robinand#8217;s Nest. and#8220;I would guess (up) by 15 percent and last year was my best year in 13 years, and Iand#8217;ve been here 14 years now.and#8221;
Having good sales before the shoulder season pleased many of the business owners interviewed Sunday and Monday.
and#8220;Itand#8217;s a fabulous way to end the summer,and#8221; said Siobhan Smart, owner of the Wagon Train Coffee Shop in Truckee, whose business was bustling Monday morning. and#8220;Labor Day has been like every weekend since mid-June (for us).and#8221;
Dave Ferrari, co-owner of Ferrariand#8217;s Crown Motel in Kings Beach, agreed.
and#8220;It has been a good summer,and#8221; he said. and#8220;One of our best summers; this is our 57th one. It was nice to see after a really lousy winter.and#8221;
The 2011-12 Tahoe winter was one with little snow, which had some negative impacts on tourism, according to previous reports, since the region relies on visitors coming to the area to enjoy snow-based activities.
and#8220;Winter was pretty dismal,and#8221; Nixon said Monday. and#8220;We had no snow, so people didnand#8217;t come. It was pretty quiet.and#8221;
She said her winter sales were down about 10 percent overall, and as a result, she had to close her daily shop one day a week.
Herb Manning, co-owner of Granite Chief, an outdoor recreational sports shop in Truckee that mostly stocks winter gear such as skis and outerwear, said winter sales were down and#8220;substantiallyand#8221; this year, forcing him to cut back on winter personnel.
While most businesses the Sierra Sun spoke to Sunday and Monday said they struggled this winter, Smart said her business did well.
and#8220;If people are booked and canand#8217;t cancel (their hotel reservation), they wonand#8217;t stay home,and#8221; she said. and#8220;Theyand#8217;ll come and do other things if they canand#8217;t ski, like go out to eat.and#8221;
While the mild winter meant less profits for most, it did result in a longer summer season for businesses.
and#8220;Summer started early for us,and#8221; Silva said. and#8220;Usually, it picks up at the end of June, but this year we saw it pick up at the beginning of June.and#8221;
Ferrari concurred: and#8220;Summer was up, so it helped pick up some of the dollars we would have expected in the winter.and#8221;
But for Cabonaand#8217;s/Jackass Ridge, a menand#8217;s and womenand#8217;s sportswear store in downtown Truckee, summer business hasnand#8217;t been so helpful in covering its winter losses.
and#8220;Summer business has been soft overall,and#8221; said Stefanie Olivieri, owner of Cabonaand#8217;s. and#8220;Itand#8217;s down from last year. A lot of people have been cautious with their spending. With the economy being unsettled, it being a presidential election year and gas prices being high, people donand#8217;t have the disposable income and feel comfortable spending.and#8221;
Olivieri said summer business has been down about 10 percent overall, something she didnand#8217;t anticipate, especially coming off of a bad winter.
and#8220;Itand#8217;s been a rough year for retail,and#8221; she said. and#8220;Weand#8217;re running a very tight ship.and#8221;
The end of Labor Day marks the unofficial beginning of the shoulder season for the region, causing local businesses to be fiscally conservative until winter arrives.
and#8220;You just have to learn how to budget,and#8221; Nixon said. and#8220;… Weand#8217;re very seasonal here and there are slow, slow times.and#8221;
Nixon said she starts preparing for the slow times during the summer months when business is usually good.
and#8220;I just donand#8217;t buy as much as Iand#8217;m tempted to buy because the bills will be coming in and the money wonand#8217;t be,and#8221; she explained.
Truckee Variety Co. has been limiting its inventory recently, said Silva, who added that another way to limit expenses during the shoulder season is by limiting staff.
and#8220;Weand#8217;re so fortunate that most of the staff goes back to school, so we never have to lay anyone off to have a smaller staff,and#8221; Silva said.
Hacienda De La Sierra, a Mexican restaurant in Incline Village, and#8220;pares downand#8221; its staff after the summer season, said Pam Weldy, restaurant manager.
and#8220;Staffing is less because we have less business, and therefore, we need less personnel to take care of this folks,and#8221; she said.
Less business also justifies not serving lunch during the shoulder and winter seasons, Weldy said. Itand#8217;s this type of conservative budgeting allows businesses like the Hacienda to remain open all year-round, including during the shoulder seasons.
Manning said his business doesnand#8217;t have the typical shoulder seasons of other businesses.
and#8220;We donand#8217;t go into an autumn transition,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Pretty much we start moving into winter with people getting (their) tune-ups.and#8221;
Manning said Granite Chief will be getting its winter inventory next week.
and#8220;We might not have snow, but weand#8217;ve turned the dial to winter mode.and#8221; he said.
A 2012-13 winter, of course, that has the hopes of businesses riding on it.
and#8220;I hope it will be a good winter this year,and#8221; Weldy said. and#8220;When you have a quiet winter, you hope the next one to be off the hook.and#8221;
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