Businesses catering to skiers feeling effects of mild weather

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(Host) The state’s ski resorts aren’t the only businesses hoping for snow.

Hundred’s of restaurants, retail shops, hotels and inns that cater to skiers and snowboarders are also feeling the effects of the mild weather.

VPR’s Nina Keck has more.

(Keck) Patty McGrath owns the Inn at the Long Trail – a popular tavern, restaurant and inn not far from Killington. While McGrath says they cater to hikers in the summer, they depend on skiers in the winter and so far, it’s been a disappointing year.

(McGrath) “We have a fair number of bookings for the 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th but we’re not full yet. On a good snow year, yes, you would be jam packed full. So you can certainly see the effect that it has.”

(Keck) Rick Torrey, owner of Basin Sports in Killington says that while business is down at his ski equipment store, he says he’s still in range of having a good season. But he says it all depends on Christmas week when he does about 9 to 10% of his overall business.

(Torrey) “The single thing is it’s a high profit time because you’re not selling on sale so you make a big hunk of your profitability that you cannot get back.”

(Keck) Torrey says he went to a sales event not long ago with other ski industry retailers

(Torrey) “And you could feel it walking in the room how unhappy people were. And the people that you know are struggling up front are not saying good things. They’re saying things like, I don’t know if I’ll be here next year.'”

(Keck) Torrey says he’s optimistic the weather will change and business will pick up. If you’re not prepared for times like this, he says you shouldn’t be in the ski industry.

(Torrey) “I think the hardest thing for me is having 60 employees who all want to ski, who are all unhappy and me trying to keep them upbeat and portraying the right image to the customer and not have anyone unhappy. And the hardest thing is when I hear the knocks on my door and my employee who’s been with me for 15 to 17 years goes – why am I not moving to Utah?'”

(Keck) Chris Karr, President of the Killington Chamber of Commerce says he just got back from a trip out to Colorado – and he says things aren’t much better there. He says ski resorts and businesses there too are praying for snow.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Chittenden.

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