South Shore sees number of businesses shut down
LAKE TAHOE Its hard for residents not to get discouraged when passing by empty store fronts along Highway 50.Five businesses that were featured in the Tribunes weekly Biz Beat column when they opened in 2008 have now closed: Design andamp; Consign, Not Just Java, Aloha Dreamz, Thai India and Elevation 6310. The column featured about 28 new businesses last year.Those closures were in addition to others around town during 2008, including Neighbors Bookstore, La Baguette, Quiznos, South Shore Motors, Millers Outpost, Tires Plus, Geoffrey Beene, Levis Outlet and Wrights Fine Foods andamp; Deli. And no doubt there were others.Baskin Robbins also closed in South Lake Tahoe in late December, although company representatives said theyre looking to find franchisees to open locations in Stateline and South Lake Tahoe.But perhaps surprisingly, businesses continue to open at the South Shore at a rapid pace. And those that are remaining open have been changing their business tactics to be more effective in tough economic times.Business closures more than doubleBusiness conditions at the South Shore are not ideal by any means.The market isnt pretty, and its not fun, but it will correct itself, said Betty B Gorman, Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce president.The city of South Lake Tahoe issued 3,274 business licenses during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, compared to the previous year, when 3,261 were issued, said Camden Collins, South Lake Tahoe economic development manager.From those numbers, approximately 285 businesses closed last year compared to 113 the previous year. But new licenses were up, with 485 issued in 2008, versus 426 in 2007, according to the citys business conditions survey. These numbers dont distinguish among types of businesses for example whether the licenses went to a contractor for a single job, or a retail store or restaurant, said Maryanne Brand, city accounting manager.Despite the economy, many people in South Lake Tahoe are deciding now is the time to start a business.The business birth rate in the city is 3 percent, which is six times greater than the national average, Collins said.Part of the reason new businesses are popping up is because many people are out of work and are deciding to start their own businesses, said Mort Meiers, Small Business Development Center consultant for South Lake Tahoe.Meiers said his clientele has grown by almost 40 percent in the past six months, partly from the economy and partly because of new businesses.Revising strategiesTo help businesses through these tough time, many business leaders are telling others they need to spend their money on the South Shore.We desperately need to shop locally, said David Kelly, South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce executive director. This has been going on for 30 years.People need to look in the phone book and see if they can find what they need up at the lake before heading down to the valley, Kelly said.Think about all the people who live and work around you, Kelly said.Business will go out of business and continue to do so if they dont support each other, Kelly said. Government agencies arent immune from it either because if no one is doing their business here, then theres no taxes to support the agencies, Kelly said.One common mistake business owners make is retreating inside their business to weather the storm.Its really important to be proactive to get out there in town, said Joann Conner, a member of the South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce.Businesses need to keep fighting through these tough times, and keep networking, Conner said.At the last networking event, Conner said a contractor met a carpet cleaner, and both realized they could refer business to one each other.Some business owners saw the slower business on the horizon and took steps to make appropriate changes to their business. Tony Dana, Tonys Cheesesteaks and Raviolis owner, used to have two locations, one at the Kings Trading Post and another at Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Pioneer Trail. He closed the store at Kings Trading Post because two stores was a lot of work with 16 employees.The main reasons for closing is Id rather have spot thats done right all the time, Dana said.Right now Dana said hes working more to cut down on payroll, because its one of the only areas he can cut.Hes also planning on adding burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches to the menu. Those items will be priced about $3 less than a cheesesteak.Now is the time business owners should be looking at their product and figuring out how to tweak it to make it more effective, Gorman said. This is the time businesses need to be more strategic.Since opening Bargains Galore: A Thrift Store and More in August, owner Lynda Shaver said customers have increased.Weve steadily had more and more traffic come into the store, Shaver said. Theres lots of repeat customers.Shaver said theyve had a lot of sale events at the thrift store, including a $2 bag of clothes sales, which meant customers could stuff as many clothes as they could into a bag for $2.In four to five months Shaver wants to open another location down by the Y area. Her sister is planning to move to the South Shore and shed help Shaver run it.Since I opened this store, I see a need in the community for one down there, Shaver said.Other businesses have had successful outreach plans.Lakeside Inn andamp; Casino started making their comp dollars available to other business partners in 2003, said Pam Wheeler.Instead of only having card holders spend their money at the casino, they can use them at different businesses around town, Wheeler said. People can gas up at Lake Tahoe Oil Company or Fox Gasoline, eat at Blue Dog Pizza, got to Sports LTD or Shoreline Sports for new outdoor gear, or stop at Sidestreet Boutique.This gives people a choice for their comp dollars, and partners with local businesses, Wheeler said.The Shops at Heavenly Village are also working together to attract customers by jointly offering sales at all the stores. The idea is to be more inviting for South Shore residents.Its locals referring locals, and all of those things that make a community solid. The more support we can give, the more we support each other, Wheeler said.What’s closedTires PlusQuiznosBaskin RobbinsDesign and ConsignThai IndiaElevation 6310Not Just JavaAloha DreamzTonys Cheesesteaks (Kings Trading Post location)Millers OutpostLevis OutletBig DogsGeoffrey BeeneSouth Shore MotorsBurger KingLa BaguetteWrights Fine Foods andamp; DeliSalathaiSports LTD (Y location)Tahoe UndergroundArbys
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