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Memorial day boosts business

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – An unseasonable snow storm Friday pushed Memorial Day weekend off to a sluggish start, but by Sunday, local merchants said consumers were making up for lost time.

Rental bikes were zooming out the doors of sport shops, gas stations were selling plenty of fuel and camping items, and the Log Cabin Cafe had its usual Sunday morning wait.

All things considered, retailers said it wasn’t too bad.

“We’ve picked up quite a bit in the last two days,” said Tom Landfried, manager of Silverthorne’s Coastal Mart, “much better than it’s been in the last two months.

“When Vail Pass was closed (Friday, because of the weather), we were pretty busy. We’ve sold lots of firewood to people who are camping or have second homes … so I hope they’re burning it properly.”

“We had a line most of the day (Sunday),” said Log Cabin Cafe manager Suzanne Ripp. “But (Saturday) wasn’t busy. I think the weekend is probably going to be very similar, despite the snow.”

Some shop owners said outdoor enthusiasts held back until Sunday because while Saturday may have been snowfree, there was still a definite nip in the air.

“We have had a ton of people renting bikes (Sunday),” said Cullen Barker of Frisco’s Wilderness Sports. “Surprisingly enough, we rented probably 90 percent of our bikes. It’s been a good weekend. Hopefully, this will be the kickoff for the summer.”

“This is probably the first big bike rental day of the season,” agreed Chris Kulick, manager of Breckenridge’s Great Adventure Sports. “I think it got warm too late in the day Saturday.”

“The weekend seems about average,” said Ron’s Texaco co-owner Larry Lewark. “We never plan on it being that big of a weekend. It starts getting busy in mid-June, then it really goes clear into September.”

Traffic watchers at the Eisenhower Tunnel also say it’s pretty normal, a bit quieter than most Memorial Day weekends.

“A year ago, we saw about 38,000 (on Saturday) in both directions for 24 hours; this year, we saw 34,000,” said Rod Henderson, tunnel superintendent. “This year is a little cooler, and it was snowing all day Friday.”

All this seemingly normal traffic had helped calm the fears of retailers who fear Sept. 11 will make people hesitant to travel this summer.

“So far, our figures have been close to normal, not as bad as we’d expected after 9-11,” said Lovie Schaeffer, manager of Goods in Breckenridge.

Or in light of the drought that has kept Dillon Reservoir far from its normal levels. While that early snow melt runoff may not bode well for water lovers, it’s revved up the bike business.

“From what we’ve seen so far, because of the really dry weather early on, the bike business has been the strongest it’s ever been,” Kulick said. “We’re selling bikes much earlier than usual. It seemed like the locals were all ready for summer. I couldn’t imagine it’d be great for the boat business, but it’s been really good for the bike business so far.”

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com.


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