Lack of snow flurries causes businesses to worry
As schools are preparing to release for the winter break and businesses are busy stocking up their shelves, one thing seems to be absent from Park City — snow.
By this time last year, it had snowed about 52 inches, according to On the Snow’s website. While it is common for early snow to melt on and off during December, it is not as common to have only seen nine inches halfway through the month.
In a town where the ski season is the busiest time of the year, there is some worry echoing among businesses about how the season will pan out.
Ryan Fray, manager of Cole Sport Park Avenue, said that he would expect it to be busier at the shop around this time of year. He said the amount of business has been comparable to past poor snow years, such as the 2014-15 season.
“We would love to see more snow,” he said. “But we’re happy with the snow making at the resorts and are thankful to have it.”
Emily Summers, spokesperson for Deer Valley Resort, said that there is no denying that the resort has had a slow start. But because of the money Deer Valley puts into snow-making equipment – or insurance policy, as resort officials like to call it – it has been able to open 16 runs and, with its snowmaking equipment, has the ability to make snow on 725 of the 2,026 acres the resort owns.
Park City Mountain Resort has opened 14 of its 348 runs. The resort had to delay its opening because of a lack of snow last month.
Yet Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said that there are more factors affecting visitation besides missing the white stuff.
“Looking at our lodging metrics, it basically showed this year that there is a pronounced shift in the Christmas holiday moving later this year,” he said.
Malone said that lodging reservations around this time last year were higher, partly because Christmas fell on a Sunday. Up until Dec. 27, reservations this year are lagging far behind last year’s mark. But after that date, reservations are exceeding last year’s numbers.
Since many of those reservations are made in the summer or fall, current snowfall is not as important for those immediate guests, Malone said. Still, what happens when they come for a white Christmas and see dirt on the ground instead?
“People go home from Christmas and tell their friends about how everything is,” he said. “We’re hopeful that the weather pattern breaks down and changes a little bit. It would certainly make the business community feel better.”
Several businesses around town are feeling that knot in their stomach. Maybe they invested in new equipment or added lots of employees to the payroll. Now, Malone said, those managers and owners are asking themselves if that was the best decision.
Like most restaurants, the Bridge Café and Grill on Main Street hired several employees for the upcoming season, said owner Emerson Oliveira. Business is slow for those employees looking to make money, so Oliveira said that he tries to promote a positive attitude at work.
“It’s going to work out,” he said. “The first part of the season, people come in waves. After that, if we have a lack of snow, we might be hurting.”
Malone agreed, and he said that having a positive attitude in front of visitors will only benefit the city in the future. Things might look dim for businesses now, but soon he said the complaints will be that there are too many people around town.
“It’s always an anxious time of year,” he said. “But when we get to the 25th, 26th of December, that’s all going to be forgotten because we are going to be hitting that 90 percent.”
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