Friday, December 27, 2013

Business owners cautiously pleased

Retailers say sales are good, but express some concern about snow conditions


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer


A large crowd of people gathered at the Sun Valley Lodge Tuesday night for a Christmas Eve ice show. Hotels in the Wood River Valley are expected to be close to capacity this week.
Express photo by Willy Cook

With the holiday season coming to a climax, business owners in the Sun Valley resort area are expressing confidence about sales, despite an overall lack of snow for skiers and snowboarders.
Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall said on Christmas Eve that the circulation of residents and visitors shopping in downtown Ketchum was encouraging, but he—like many locals and visitors—has been somewhat frustrated by the persistent sunny skies.
“It’s clear to me that we do very well when we have a lot of snow and vice versa,” Hall said. “We’re at capacity for pretty much all the holidays, but it’s filling in the gaps that is the problem. We need snow to make our economy.”
While it is unclear whether the lack of snowfall in central Idaho is adversely affecting visitor occupancy, lodging facilities in the valley have not been filled to capcity. According to an occupancy report from the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance, the estimated occupancy for hotels in Sun Valley and Ketchum between Dec. 19 and 25 was 43 percent. The hotel occupancy rate in Hailey was 31 percent for the week. For hotels and condos in Ketchum and Sun Valley, occupancy was 47 percent. The numbers are predicted to be significantly higher in Ketchum and Sun Valley for the week ending Jan. 1.
Backwoods Mountain Sports owner Andy Munter said pre-Christmas sales were down from last year, but the numbers were still good. He said he believes the lack of snow is a factor.
“The decreased snowfall has definitely affected us, but we’ve seen it before and Christmas is still Christmas and people still need presents,” Munter said. “What I love to see is so many people taking to heart that ‘shop locally’ message. While backcountry skiing sales are down, skate skiing is really strong. People know that the skiing is good at Galena Lodge and on the Harriman Trail.”


If we don’t get more snow in January, then it could be frustrating.”
Jim Slanetz
Board Bin owner




Munter said that while the lack of snowfall has caused his snowsports product sales to take a hit, the void has been filled through increased purchases of other products.
“Fat tire bikes have sold particularly well due to the reduced snow and especially the lightweight carbon bikes,” he said. “That’s helped make up for some of the lack of ski-related sales.”
The lack of snow has actually brought some benefits for Atkinsons’ supermarket, according to co-owner Chip Atkinson. He said inclement weather can often create issues for delivery trucks coming into town, but that has not been an issue this year.
“The only difficulty we run into during the holidays is how the trucking will work,” Atkinson said. “The trucking has gone pretty well because of the lack of snowfall.”
He added that sometimes there are trendy items that become very popular and the store runs out of stock. However, no such issues have arisen this month, as he said he does not know of any significant items being sold out.
Meanwhile, Toy Store owner Carol Knight said business has been excellent over the holiday season. She said she believes customers from out of town are having much more fun shopping in Ketchum than they would anywhere else.
“It really seems like everyone who’s doing their holiday shopping is having a great time,” she said.
She said she wished she had bought more remote-controlled drones because they sold out so quickly, but is nevertheless pleased with how business is going over the holidays.
Jim Slanetz, owner of the Board Bin in Ketchum, said his business got off to a slow start initially in December but has since picked up steadily. He said December is a critical month for the Board Bin, because the shop tends to make 25 percent of its sales then.
    Slanetz said he doesn’t think the lack of snowfall is a problem in December, but could prove to be a major issue in attracting visitors to the Wood River Valley if it continues into January.
    “People book their trips here for Christmas several months in advance, and they know they’ll be here regardless of what the snowfall is,” Slanetz said. “In January, the customers can be much more fickle, because then they can make cheaper bookings on much shorter notice, and then they can decide where they want to visit based on the snowfall. If we don’t get more snow in January, then it could be frustrating.”
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



-->
 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.