Businesses hope for big summer after average Memorial weekend
Tahoe Daily Tribune
TAHOE/TRUCKEE – After a lackluster Memorial weekend turnout in sales and less-than-optimal weather forecasts, area businesses are turning hopes to a June warm weather rush.
Such is the case for Bill Cushway, co-owner of Olympic Bikes in Tahoe City. Cushway said bike rentals were about average but sales have dropped from last year.
“We’re experiencing kind of a slow start this year,” Cushway said. “Bike sales in general are substantially off, but we’re hoping for a pent up enthusiasm as things warm up.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Cushway said the bike shop isn’t as concerned about visiting crowds as it is about local clientele who provide a significant percentage of repair work, bicycle purchases and bike accessory sales.
From June 15 to the July 4 weekend is when the bike shop will be able to officially gauge its financial omens. By then, Cushway said the schools will have let out, the weather will be warming and sales will have left a few telling lines in the sand.
For Tahoe Dave’s Skis & Boards in Kings Beach, Tahoe City and Truckee, shops were busy, but the registers didn’t necessarily reflect that at the end of the holiday weekend.
“It was certainly fair, about the same as last year,” said owner Dave Wilderotter. “We were hoping for a bump with the strong winter but the weather was kind of funky.”
That’s normal for Memorial Day – hit or miss depending on the weather, he said.
On the slopes at Squaw, Amelia Richmond, Squaw Valley USA’s spokeswoman, said the skier turnout was well worth reopening.
“From a business standpoint it was worth the effort,” Richmond said. “It definitely kind of gives people a taste of the summer.”
Since not all the lifts were in use over the weekend, Richmond said it helped lower overhead costs as well.
The holiday weekend represents the official opening of the Incline Village General Improvement District beaches, and the gloomy weather meant lesser crowds at Lake Tahoe’s shores.
“Memorial Day weekend is always kind of a crap shoot, and this past weekend was no different,” sad Hal Paris, director of parks and recreation at IVGID.
Nevertheless, the weather cooperated Saturday, and many residents showed up to witness the grand opening of the water slide located at the swimming pool at Burnt Cedar Beach. Paris said attendance at the beaches typically picks up around mid-June when Incline school students get out of school.
Ashley Brimm, owner of Austin’s restaurant in Incline, said business was brisk during the holiday weekend, and compared favorably to Memorial Day weekends of the past.
“We opened the patio, had a barbecue on Sunday and we had a lot of people show up,” she said. “The colder weather didn’t seem to affect business as I thought it might.”
Aaron Nelson, owner of The Potlatch store in Incline, said Memorial Day weekend doesn’t compare to weekends in July and August, so big sales were not expected. He said sales were down a little from Memorial weekend 2009.
“The cooler temperatures didn’t help,” he said. “You can’t ski and you can’t go to the beach.”
Like restaurants, Tahoe hotels reported a steady flow of customers with some even exceeding last year’s Memorial sales.
Dave Ferrari, owner of the Ferrari Crown Motel in Kings Beach, said compared with last year his sales were up by about 10 percent.
Ferrari said this year he decided not to charge holiday rates, to bring in more visitors. Whether the pricing change made an impact is unclear; however, Ferrari said his hotel rooms were near capacity with a smattering of visitors ranging from wedding parties to spring vacationers. Ages he said went across the spectrum and the average stay was about two days.
“If the weather had turned warmer and if the week before would have been better, we might have been a little busier,” Ferrari said. “There was a time when it was a solid three-day weekend.”
Law enforcement said crime was a nothing-out-of-the-ordinary type of weekend.
Sgt. John Giovannini of the Placer County Sheriff’s Department said crimes were small despite visitor surges and a collection of tightly packed bars in Tahoe City and Kings Beach.
“I didn’t see anything significant come across my desk; a few DUIs, petty theft, traffic tickets,” Giovannini said.
In Truckee, Capt. Harwood Mitchell said things were uneventful as well.
“It was a typically very pleasant opening weekend for the summer,” Mitchell said.
Truckee Police didn’t increase staffing, like it does for the much busier Fourth of July weekend.
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