Shouldering the season: Locals have love-hate relationship with fall |

Shouldering the season: Locals have love-hate relationship with fall

William Ferchland

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Labor Day fireworks light up the South Shore on Sunday night.

It’s here.

The second coming of the shoulder season – also known as fall and spring, which are wedged between the tourist-laden summer and winter – has arrived with the advent of Labor Day.

It’s a period when businesses are burdened by a drop in revenue while locals revel in the thinning of tourists and traffic.

“I can make a left turn in Meyers without waiting 10 minutes,” said Danny Maxey, a South Shore resident for more than a decade.

Dickson Brown isn’t cheering that much. The Sports Ltd. employee, who runs the bicycle and ski section at the Crescent V shopping center, said he notices a change in business after Labor Day.

“There’s a huge effect,” he said. “There’s a huge effect when the destination customer is not in town.”

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A well-known joke around town is Tahoe only has two seasons: summer and winter. Yet the fall months aren’t as bad business-wise as the spring, Brown said.

In the fall, people prepare for the winter and are able to enjoy the outdoors, Brown explained. They buy expensive snow equipment such as discounted skis and snowboards. Fall allows people to hike and camp snow-free trails.

Apart from the outdoor store, Brown doesn’t mind the slowdown.

“I look forward to life in Tahoe in the fall,” he said. “I think it’s the nicest season.”

Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, said businesses are stuck between a rock and a hard place during the “traditional two rough spots of the year.”

Two dilemmas face businesses during the shoulder seasons, Wallace said. To stay afloat, pay cuts or temporary layoffs could be instituted at the risk of permanently losing workers, or full-pay can remain even though business is poor.

“It takes some real creativity to find your customers and keep your help busy,” he said.

To lessen the sting to financial books, Wallace suggested businesses request employees take vacation time during the shoulder season.

He also plugged the need of a convention center which will be addressed Tuesday when officials from the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency and Marriott Vacation Club meet.

“We’re tourism farmers dependent on the weather and we really need a convention center that has events and people coming during the shoulder season so we can keep our employees happy,” Wallace said.

Some dispute that shoulder seasons even exist. Travis Grellman, a 10-year resident, experiences traffic and tourists during the off months.

“The offseason is filling in,” he said.

Richard Munk, a retired South Lake Tahoe police officer, seemed to agree.

“It’s more steady now than it used to be,” he said.

“It’s not like we can put away the gun belt,” South Lake Tahoe police Sgt. Mike Dente said.

Ryan Laufer, a South Shore resident for 12 years, is happy for any decrease in visitors.

“I love that time of year when the locals get to be local,” he said.

– E-mail William Ferchland at