With 20-degree lows and snow forecast for the weekend, Ketchum’s summer tourism season is over—but retailers say this season has gone into the books as one to remember.

“Business was up, and August was our best month,” said Rita Greenawalt, owner of The Farmer’s Daughter home goods store in Ketchum.

The store drew a customer base of mostly second-home owners and tourists, Greenawalt said.

Local-option tax receipts from the city of Ketchum reinforce retailers’ observations: The city documented a total LOT collection of $550,998 during the months of June and July, up 9.9 percent from the $501,150 collected in June and July of 2018.

Bob Gordon, owner of Formula Sports in Ketchum, said the momentum from his store’s summer tent sales hasn’t let up.

“Our summer was good right from the start,” Gordon said. “E-bike sales were especially strong in early May, and bike rentals were good. Right now, ski sales are really starting to pick up, since we have a lot of last year’s skis at discount prices.”

Zach Gerry, co-owner of PK’s Ski & Sports, noted an uptick in e-bike and gravel bike sales over the summer, which he attributed to the rise of “bikepacking” culture.

“E-bike sales have been No. 1 across the board—a trend we’ve seen across town, too—and we got in a lot of bikepackers who were doing hot springs tours across Idaho,” he said. “We saw a lot more international bikers this year, which was cool. It was definitely a summer of positive growth.”

Paddy McIlvoy, managing partner of Backwoods Mountain Sports, echoed Gordon and Gerry’s reports.

“We were solidly up from last year, and last year we were up from the year before,” he said.

According to summer fishing reports compiled by Bret Bishop of Silver Creek Outfitters, rivers throughout the valley saw a high rate of flow in early summer after a wetter-than-average winter. However, Silver Creek Outfitters owner Terry Ring said cooler and deeper river water doesn’t necessarily correlate with slower sales.

“Every year, sales are subject to runoff and weather conditions, but if we have a bit of a slower start we will often do better during the end of the summer,” Ring said. “When you have a cooler, higher-water summer like this—and several really good snow years in a row—our fishing trips will often be fully booked from July 1st through late August.”

Ring added that fly tackle and wading gear drove many of his sales.

“July and August were good, and September continues to be strong,” he said.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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