I-80 Closures making businesses nervous
Interstate 80 closures on Aug. 9 and 16 are not bringing gloom and doom to Park City, but they are making some businesses nervous.
The eastbound lanes will close Aug. 16, making it difficult to get up Parley’s Canyon, creating different problems from last week when the westbound lanes were closed.
The Tanger Outlet Mall at Kimball Junction saw slower traffic last weekend and expects the same next weekend in the midst of what is usually its busiest season.
Back-to-school shoppers usually hit the outlet stores in mid-August, so Tanger is encouraging early-bird specials and other incentives to get customers up the canyon before the closures.
"This is supposed to be the biggest week of the year," said Nancy Gray, general manager. "There was a definite drop in the afternoon (of Aug. 9)."
Deer Valley is also bracing for possible dip in attendance at its performances this weekend. Gladys Knight with the Utah Symphony starts Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with the closure beginning at 7 p.m.
Jana Allred, Deer Valley Music Festival spokesperson, said they are warning attendees to make it up the canyon in time and don’t anticipate major problems.
The Golden Dragon Acrobats will appear at Deer Valley at 5 p.m. on Sunday with the eastbound lanes not scheduled to open until 7 p.m.
Even though the westbound lanes opened an hour and a half before scheduled on Aug. 10, the event promoters are encouraging people to take Provo Canyon this weekend.
So far the show is selling well despite the closure, said Teri Orr, Park City Performing Arts Foundation executive director. It’s the first time the foundation has done this type show at the Deer Valley venue, but so far sales are better than they were the last time the troupe came to the Eccles Center.
Since most sales for this kind of event are at the door, and many patrons will be coming from Salt Lake, it’s difficult to gauge the exact impact until the night of the performance.
"We understand the need for the closures, but it’s not great timing for us," Orr said.
The Deer Valley Music Festival had to cancel a Saturday performance of the Utah Opera doing "HMS Pinafore" on Aug. 9 and encouraged ticket holders to go Friday instead but did offer refunds.
Again, most summer festival patrons are from Salt Lake City.
"Our only option was to cancel," said Allred.
Breakfast and lunch servers targeting out-of-towners saw slower numbers last weekend than this time last year.
The Alpine Internet Café usually gets spill-over business from the Park Silly Sunday Market. Manager Katie Stellpflug said she definitely saw fewer people on Aug. 10.
Main Street Pizza and Noodle saw five to ten percent fewer sales than last year, said manager Ron Meneses.
The Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Best Western in Kimball Junction could have had more business from travelers choosing to stay the night rather than drive around the mountains, but all three were full before the closure. The Outdoor Retailers convention filled up many lodges in the Wasatch area weeks ago, said Melissa Averett, general manager for the Hampton.
"We’ve never experienced anything like this before," said Bill Malone, executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau.
Establishments targeting locals like the Windy Ridge Café and Bakery, the Kimball Arts Center and the Utah Olympic Park said they didn’t notice a difference at all.
The Grappa Italian Restaurant on Main Street did report several cancellations from 801 numbers, but that overall business was good. Another Bill White restaurant, the Chimayo, said the local clientele kept them busy.
"I thought the closure would make a difference, but we don’t get a ton of people coming from Salt Lake," said Ryan Mickelson, assistant general manager. "It was a lot of golfers and business people."
The Jeremy Store at Jeremy Ranch just outside the closure did well in sales last weekend, with confused travelers congregating at its pumps trying to find a way around the construction.
The gas station and convenience store saw some of its best business of the summer, said worker Socorro Armendariz through an interpreter.
Even though business was slower than usual at the Tanger Outlets, children’s clothing stores still saw customers, said Samantha Eames, co-manager for The Children’s Place.
Since Saturday’s closure will make it more difficult to get up Parley’s Canyon, next weekend may be different, but Eames is optimistic that shoppers will make it up.
Weekdays have been busy as well, she said, as more people get their shopping done outside of the weekend. This trend is keeping Gray, Tanger’s general manager, "cautiously optimistic."
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