Fourth biz: Bust for some, bang for others
The Fourth of July holiday fell mid-week this year on the heels of a highly publicized wildfire in South Lake Tahoe, puncturing the hopes of many businesses and lodging properties for a strong opening of the basin’s summer season.
“We were affected by the fire … and having the Fourth [of July] land on a Wednesday had an effect as well,” said Les Petersen, director of sales and marketing for Resort at Squaw Creek. “It’s not a gift ” to have a national holiday fall right in the middle [of the week].”
West Shore Sports owner Rob Weston agreed.
“The two things combined were a double whammy,” he said.
Most business officials attributed this year’s reduced Fourth of July tourism to the fact the holiday was on a Wednesday, but others say it was the over-hyped coverage of the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe.
“Unfortunately, the TV media sensationalizes a lot of the weather-related events, like in the winter, on their own advising people what they feel,” said Weston, who also serves on the West Shore Association board of directors. “It has a bigger impact than I think they realize.”
Despite California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s declaration that Lake Tahoe was open for business even with the Angora fire, people unfamiliar with the area still did not flock to the lake’s shores, officials said.
“The media hurt us from a standpoint of saying Tahoe’s on fire, when in fact it was a very isolated area,” said Andy Chapman, director of tourism for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
And though many agree that both the fire and the split-week holiday was a detriment to the local economy, most say it really wasn’t too big of a blow.
“For me, the dollars were good. I did OK. But in terms of total business, that was off because there were less people here,” Weston said.
The overall feel within the business community was that numbers were down, but the holiday greeted a few enterprises with dollar signs.
“It was a great week ” it started with the first Monday, from Monday through the weekend,” said John Firpo, who manages three retail shops in Truckee.
Firpo reported seeing a lot of visitors throughout town during the week and said that business was better than last year, maybe due to gas prices or the heat in the Sacramento Valley.
Sally Mills of Kings Beach Miniature Golf agreed that the weather was good for business.
“The third and fourth [of July] were moderate; the fifth and sixth were insane ” turned out to be the busiest days of the year. I think it was definitely busier this year after the Fourth of July, but the same for the actual holiday,” she said. “I thought it was maybe the heat and stuff, or maybe because the beach was so busy.”
Most managers of retail shops and lodging properties anticipated lower numbers last week because of the split-week holiday, but many said the rest of the season looks promising.
“We saw a lot of activity of people walking around town ” to see what’s new, visit with their neighbors,” said Executive Director Kelly Atchley of the Tahoe City Downtown Association.