Park City’s Main Street awaits a reopening, but ‘everything hinges on the health data’ |

Park City’s Main Street awaits a reopening, but ‘everything hinges on the health data’

Main Street businesses continue to suffer amid the novel coronavirus-forced closures and restrictions. The leader of the group that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core says she has not heard of a business that intends to permanently close as a result of the drop in sales.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

The Main Street post office continues to draw people headed to post-office boxes or to put something in the mail.

And some restaurants are open in the Main Street core with limited service at the curb.

But the shopping, dining and entertainment strip — the most iconic in the Park City area — remains largely shuttered as the community continues to attempt to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus. It has been upward of a month since the mountain resorts were forced to close, ending the ski season early and dragging Park City into an early shoulder season.

The spring shoulder season — typically covering April and May — is tough on Main Street businesses as they await the start of the summer-tourism season. Some of the businesses temporarily close even in a typical year, but the breadth of the shutdowns in the Main Street core this year is marked as a Summit County emergency health order curtailing many public activities remains in effect.

The Historic Park City Alliance, an organization that represents businesses along Main Street or just off the street, is awaiting the moment when the restrictions are eased and businesses will be reopened. The executive director of the organization, Alison Kuhlow, said in an interview on Thursday a projected timetable for the reopening of business on Main Street is not known. It will depend on the coronavirus statistics, she said.

“Everything hinges on the health data. At this point, we’re not setting any expectation,” Kuhlow said about the timing of Main Street’s return to business.

She said Main Street businesses are not targeting a specific date. Identifying a day, she said, is not relevant to the overall readiness of Main Street or to the psyche of potential customers. Instead, Kuhlow said, “it’s about everything coming together.”

“Setting a date like June 1 means nothing. It doesn’t mean people will be ready to spend money” or gather with crowds, she said.

Summit County officials on Thursday indicated in an open letter to businesses that the area economy could begin to reopen in a “scaled fashion” in mid-May based on current modeling of the virus’ growth.

Kuhlow said the Historic Park City Alliance wants Main Street businesses to reopen as quickly and safely as they can. She also said the reopening discussions need to take into account the possibility of a reoccurrence of the illness.

Commerce on Main Street has dropped sharply since the health restrictions were adopted. Kuhlow said some of the restaurants continue to offer curbside service and there are galleries and clothing stores that are operating online. She estimated, though, just 10% of the businesses this week were operating online or in some other fashion such as curbside service.

Kuhlow also said April and May are traditionally the weakest months for sales on Main Street, something that could diminish the impact of the novel coronavirus on business. She said projected revenues this month normally are low anyway. Kuhlow said she has not heard of a business that intends to permanently close as a result of the drop in sales.

The struggles on Main Street are continuing at a time of uncertainty as the summer-tourism season approaches. The season traditionally starts around Independence Day, but June numbers can be solid as well. The Tour of Utah bicycling race, a large event for Main Street in August, and the Savor the Summit dining event in June were recently canceled, dealing an early blow to the season. The Park Silly Sunday Market, meanwhile, is currently poised to begin as scheduled in June, but organizers have said they will set the actual opening date based on discussions with health officials and City Hall.

Business generated from summer tourism trails the ski season by a wide margin, but the numbers in the warm-weather months have consistently climbed over time with attractions like cultural gatherings, concerts and sports events.

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