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Slow summer, retailers report

Jeff Clemetson, Sierra Sun

The national recession caused a mixture of reactions in the local tourism economy this summer, according to a sampling of Truckee businesses.”My understanding is the rental side is experiencing a slight dip, but overall we’re in good shape,” said Charlie White, broker at Donner Lake Realty. “It’s not gloom and doom for Donner Lake for rentals.”Other area rental agencies are reporting a more severe downturn in business.”It’s noticeably down,” said Trudi Linzey, office manager of Tahoe Guide. “And everyone I’ve spoken to has said the same thing.”Linzey speculated a hesitant Bay Area market caused the slump.Best Western Truckee Tahoe Inn manager Laura Ryan said July was significantly down and August was looking better, but not as strong as last year.For Labor Day, she said with most schools starting before the holiday, it hasn’t been as strong a weekend for tourists as it used to be.”Saturday may fill up if we’re lucky,” she said, adding that Truckee better “pray for snow” because a whole year of recession will hurt area businesses.Cabona’s manager John Firpo agrees.”You don’t have the people up here on Labor Day that there used to be,” he said. “Families aren’t staying as late in the summer as before.”Firpo said Cabona’s had about the same business as last summer.However, Rachelle Pellissier, president of Truckee Chamber of Commerce, said, based on retail at the visitor’s center, she felt this summer’s business in Truckee was better than last year’s.”We’ve sold more than ever before and it’s exceedingly busy here,” she said.Andrew Carey, manager of Andy’s Truckee Diner, said it is hard to compare this summer’s business with last year’s.”My two-year average is still up, but this year is down from 2000,” he said adding that 2000 was a “banner year” with better snowfall and a good economy.Several workers from area restaurants gave a drearier picture, saying that business is way down from last year – possibly as much as 35 to 50 percent.”We had a decent summer but it’s not like last summer when we were hustling and bustling every night,” said Coburn’s Station owner and manager Nicole Wojslaw, adding that this summer’s business is winding down faster than last year.”Another thing is finding help has been harder than ever before,” Wojslaw said. “We’re just not seeing the experienced resumes we used to.”Wojslaw said higher costs of living and dwindling customers are keeping experienced wait staff from moving to the area.High fuel prices, construction on Interstate 80, fires, road closures and the slumping economy affected local gas stations this year, according to local service station owners.”In general, business was down this year,” said Joel Williams, owner of Donner Gate Chevron. “I think people are flat cutting back.”Jack Guzman, owner of J&L Food Mart and Car Wash, said the fall season will be a significant indicator of the effect of the recession because the recent layoffs in the Bay Area started hitting his business hard just recently.”We’ll see what happens in the next few months,” he said, adding that he predicts a 10 to 20 percent decline in business when the fiscal year ends.Despite the downturn, Guzman remains optimistic.”We’re going to get through it,” he said. “We’ve been through tough times before and I know we’re going to make it.”


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