Merchants report flat sales compared to last year |

Merchants report flat sales compared to last year

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun Kara LaPoint makes a holiday purchase at Schöne Sachen. Truckee merchants say they're off to a slow start this season.

By Christine StanleySierra SunSales downtown have been stagnant this year, according to many longtime Commercial Row and Brickelltown merchants, who also reported that while “paid parking” is the buzz phrase these days, it’s only a temporary downer.

“It’s been a very challenging year; we have felt the impact of a slowing economy,” said Truckee Downtown Merchant’s Association President Stefanie Olivieri, who also owns Cabona’s, the Cabona’s Outlet, and the new Isabella O. “I don’t think that [paid] parking is an issue; people are glad they can find a spot. But I think that the Bypass has taken a lot of through traffic out.”Other merchants agreed that the Bypass has been tough on business, but that, temporarily at least, parking has been just as detrimental. “Parking has been affecting the local [shoppers],” said Different People manager Claudia Marinello. “They don’t stop by for quick things anymore.”Chrissie Dahl, assistant manager at The Pharmacy, said she felt shopper morale was down, and that she too is seeing fewer locals in her store than normal.

“Parking’s been a big issue,” she said. “People just keep going; they don’t stop.”In an effort to tip the scales, about a dozen businesses, including Jackass Ridge, JoAnne’s Glass, and Cabona’s, are now offering parking validations of $1 off purchases.Only exasperating a slow business year is the late arrival of snow. “No snow, no ski. No ski, no shop,” said Schöne Sachen owner Erika LaPoint.

But LaPoint said she has no room to complain; since moving her shop to Brickelltown in July from its previous location in Gateway, sales for her business are up. She also noted that while some customers and merchants are grumbling, there are few better places to be for business in Truckee.”[Not having] snow is absolutely impacting sales,” said Jennifer Gorin, saleswoman at Thousand Mile Outdoor Wear. “We should have already sold everything in the store, plus everything in the warehouse. “Without the snow, people aren’t coming, which means no Christmas shopping and that sort of thing.”But snow or not, free parking or paid, it seems that downtown merchants have their work cut out for them if they plan on boosting sales next year. Marinello said that Different People will continue to update its merchandise, and Olivieri mentioned that Cabona’s will soon launch its new Web site with online-shopping options. The rest, they contend, is up to shoppers.

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