Tahoe’s summer business: A mixed bag
Despite pricey gas and several well-publicized wildfires, the North Tahoe-Truckee region fared considerably better this summer than some might have expected, according to area business owners.
While it’s too soon after the Labor Day weekend for precise numbers, restaurants, lodging properties and other businesses report brisk traffic since the Fourth of July.
“Our business is up this year,” said Scott Willers, operations manager at Tahoe Dave’s. “Almost every single week [we’re up by] double-digit percentages.”
But robust visitor numbers didn’t necessarily translate into higher sales for some.
“It seems like we’ve had large numbers of people … There’s been a lot of people, but not necessarily purchases,” said Stefanie Olivieri, owner of Cabona’s, Isabella O. and Jackass Ridge in Truckee and president of the Truckee Downtown Merchant’s Association. “I think people are here, to some degree, but I don’t think they’re here in the numbers they used to be.”
Olivieri said that in her experience, rising gas prices always affect sales.
“[People] simply aren’t spending the way they used to. I attribute it to high mortgage prices … people don’t have the disposable income they used to have. That and high gas prices,” she said. “Overall, when it’s said and done and we calculate our summer business, it’s going to have been fairly flat.”
Laura Ryan with Best Western Truckee Tahoe Inn agreed.
“Our summer was good. June started off a little quieter than last year and July and August were both very similar, maybe a little bit less traffic,” Ryan said.
Alvina Patterson owns the Holiday House in Tahoe Vista and reported a very successful summer.
“People were hesitant with the fire, but again I explained to them that is didn’t affect the North Shore, so I don’t think I did lose business,” Patterson said. “And gasoline, again, I think the people need vacation so they go anyway, even if it is expensive.”
Patterson said she owes this summer’s success to the fact that she and a number of other lodging properties around Lake Tahoe banded together. The operations traded business cards and booking information weekly, referring clients to one another when price, location or vacancy didn’t fit a customer’s needs.
“I personally think [this summer was better than last] because the lodges around the lake referred business to each other. I think that made a big difference,” Patterson said.
Owners of Morning Glory Cottage Furnishings relocated from Tahoe Vista to Tahoe City early in the summer, and reported heavier foot traffic at their new location.
“It feels promising. It’s totally different in that we have tons and tons of foot traffic, which wasn’t the case in Tahoe Vista,” said Tricia Scarcia, who owns Morning Glory with Marcy Schreiber. “Being the new business in town, we were pleasantly surprised.”
Scarcia agreed with some business owners, who credited the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe with possibly scaring away some visitors.
“In talking with other businesses, the traffic was probably less so than in past years. Maybe the South Lake fire is fighting a bunch of people off,” said Scarcia.
Labor Day weekend blessed Kevin Hickey’s Tahoe Adventure Company with more business this year than last. Hickey said the numbers were up across the board from last year and said that neither gas prices nor fire fears seemed to have any negative impact on business.
Tahoe City Downtown Association staff have not yet met as planned with restaurant, retail and lodging owners to discuss summer business, but the annual Labor Day sidewalk sale this weekend was likely a success.
“It was crowded, I know that,” said Kelly Atchley, the business association’s executive director.
And, if the success of the free Commons Beach concert series is any indication of summer traffic, then the area is doing very well.
“We’re just continuing to grow,” Atchley said of the event. “This weekend we will pass 15,000 people at the summer concert series … It’s very clear it’s an event people like.”
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