Tepid start to summer in S. Lake | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tepid start to summer in S. Lake

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Businesses from the California-Nevada border to the “Y” welcomed the nudge in tourism at the launching of the summer season in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The consensus showed a large majority of business owners and managers grateful for any type of boost. But they’ve also found that gone are the fat and happy days of plenty of visitors to support a town’s dependency on tourism dollars and sales tax. This type of tax revenue generates 18 percent of the city’s general fund dollars.

“We finally got our weather,” Kmart manager Charlie Roome said, evaluating a weekend’s worth of cash receipts. The one mass merchandiser in town sold a multitude of summer clothes, picnic supplies, gardening tools and patio furniture.

Rude Brothers and Red Hut saw a steady stream of weekend customers over breakfast. Cork & More reported better sales than the average Memorial Day holiday, while Rocktonic was pleased as punch with the upsurge.

“It was three times better than the average weekend,” said Diane Cohn, who operates the juice bar with her husband, Ted.

Cohn said she thought the deciding factor for a successful holiday weekend would be Heavenly Ski Resort reopening, but her eyes told her otherwise.

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“Now I think it’s the weather, and we are totally weather-dependent. The hotter, the better — if we were in Sacramento, we’d probably be rich,” she said. Temperatures there were in the triple digits.

Cohn noticed more people in shorts than in ski gear.

Heavenly management was unavailable for comment. Kirkwood Mountain Resort reported 2,000 visitors who hadn’t given up on hitting the slopes. They were open two days while Heavenly ran lifts the past four days.

If the visitors weren’t skiing in the white stuff, they were eating it off an ice cream cone.

Sno Flake Drive-In was so busy Monday afternoon with people coming and going through town, workers were unable to talk about the business.

The Tahoe Douglas Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center expects more visitors on the way. Jody Ballard said the center took several calls from people inquiring about the middle of the week — long-awaited news for a lodging industry seeking more midweek guests.

Over the holiday weekend, the center recorded 473 people visiting the their location.

Co-manager Paul Tindal of Lakeview Sports, which rents boats and bikes, saw a slight increase in business, but he reported nothing to write home about that matches the banner tourism years of 1999 and 2000.

“I think it’s not so special to go away for a long weekend. That’s what I’ve noticed over the last couple of years. A lot more people work on weekends,” he said, adding how difficult it is to staff up for such an unpredictable business climate.

“I feel sorry for the 18-year-olds who want to work and don’t have enough to go around,” he said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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