Gift shop owners believe craft fairs impacting revenue |

Gift shop owners believe craft fairs impacting revenue

Owners of gift shops in the Stateline corridor are frustrated over the proliferation of craft fairs a couple blocks away.

As booths go up in the parking lot of Horizon Casino Resort, sales plummet in their stores, according to owners. The scenario has repeated itself three of the seven days each week of summer.

“That’s almost half the summer,” said Rena McCarthy, owner of The Happyness Boutique, Wild Card Gifts and Bottoms Up gift shops located between the state line and Park Avenue. “We depend on summer. We pay rent here and wait all winter long for customers to come in.”

During a recent weekend, receipts for Tahoe Togs, owned by Ray and Robbie Earhart, were down 30 percent.

“(Craft fairs) impact our business at Stateline tremendously,” said business owner Robbie Earhart.

Last fall, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency issued a special use permit allowing the Horizon to hold 16 craft fairs each summer for three more years.

Earhart fought for years against weekly craft fairs in the city of South Lake Tahoe with some success.

“The California ones don’t seem to hurt us,” she said. “We fought and fought and fought to get them down in the city.”

Currently, the city also monitors craft fairs to ensure hand-made crafts are actually sold, not bulk purchased wholesale goods.

Such monitoring does not happen at the Horizon craft fairs, said Earhart, who has seen “made in” stickers on the products.

“Seventy-five percent of the stuff (at Horizon) is not hand-made,” McCarthy said. “Some are the same things I sell.”

Neither business owner is against craft fairs in general. Infrequent fairs with only hand-made items would be an asset to the community and not hurt their businesses, they said. Earhart noted the Genoa Candy Dance as such an event.

McCarthy and Earhart also question the contention that frequent craft fairs attract visitors to South Shore.

“These (fairs) do not support our community,” Earhart said. “(Sellers) bring in motor homes (so they don’t stay in city motels or eat at restaurants). They buy nothing. They take thousands away from local businesses that have to support their employees all year.

“We’re one small store. You can imagine how much it hurts our community.”

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