North Shore merchants reflect on business without Ponderosa Ranch
INCLINE VILLAGE – Sunday marked one year since the Ponderosa Ranch closed its gates for the last time. Whether its closing has impacted the North Shore economy is still open to question, tourism officials say.
“I guess if you look at pure numbers of visitors to this area, you’d have to say there was no impact,” said Bill Hoffman, executive director of the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Chamber of Commerce. “If this past summer was not a record, it was pretty close to it. The Ponderosa was one of those places that people didn’t come specifically to see, but ended up going to in the course of their visit.”
Hoffman also said he feels that the absence of the ranch as an attraction could be something that’s felt by the village down the road.
“A lot of people, from five to 20 a day, come by asking why the ranch is closed. They say they didn’t know and are disappointed,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said there were some visitors who did come over to see the ranch, and it’s those people who may not return to this side of the lake for that reason.
“It was once the people got here that they found out,” Hoffman said. “Whether these people return is another question and I think we have to pick up the slack if we want those visitors to return.”
Carolyn Prchal, who has worked at the Tahoe Store for more than five years, said she hasn’t really noticed much difference.
“People who didn’t know about the ranch closing have been disappointed,” she said.
Tinsel Town-owner Eddie Almeyda has a different take on things.
“Oh sure, we have a lot less tourists now,” Almeyda said. “When the ranch had their breakfast rides, people would come from all over the lake and after would come into town. Now we don’t see as much.”
Former Ponderosa co-owner, David Geddes, said his feelings about the first summer without the responsibility of running the 36-year-old attraction were mixed.
“It was a lot of work and we put a lot of our time into it,” Geddes said. “So, to not have to deal with it is a big relief. On the other hand, there were certain fun aspects of doing business, like the breakfast rides and I have to admit when I drive past the property now and it’s like eight in the morning, I think that last year at this time, I was getting people up the hill for breakfast.”