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For the week of January 9 - 15, 2002

  News

Holiday trade improves

Skier tally near record


"We still have a ways to go to make up for the exceptionally slow slack season this fall, but weíre doing really well now." 

Mark Fisher, Mama Inez owner


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

The Christmas and New Year holidays in Sun Valley didnít turn out the way many local retailers and residents expected.

Sun Valley reported its second highest December skier visits in the past 10 years, with 87,784 skiers and snowboarders carving up the resortís two mountains.

Despite early speculation of a poor holiday season in the retail and ski industries, and a record-low shopping season nationwide, local stores, restaurants and Sun Valley Co. are reporting extremely healthy sales and visitor figures for the past several weeks.

"Snowóthatís the most important thing," Sun Valley Co. spokesman Jack Sibbach said. "The snow and the good weather, which we had both of in December this year."

Sun Valley reported its second highest December skier visits in the past 10 years, with 87,784 skiers and snowboarders carving up the resortís two mountains. The next closest year was 1994, when 94,662 skiers and snowboarders visited.

Last year, which set a United States visitor record but was average throughout most of the Rockies, Sun Valley recorded 83,320 mountain visits.

"After Sept. 11, in conjunction with the economic downturn that was already underway, we were very concerned that local businesses would suffer this holiday season," said Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director Carrie Schiller-Westergard.

That concern is waning slightly.

Paul Kennyís Ski and Sport in Warm Springs reported a 6 percent improvement over last yearís holiday sales.

And outside of the snow sports industry, things werenít bad, either.

"I havenít seen the numbers, but I definitely feel that this week is much better than any week we had last year," said Dave Faultings, at Silver Creek Outfitters.

Cliff Coons, owner of Bob Dog Pizza in Ketchum, said his business didnít break any records but is up 40 percent from last year.

"You sure wonít hear me complaining," he said.

Mark Fisher, owner of Mama Inez in Ketchum, reported an estimated 15 percent increase compared to last year.

"We still have a ways to go to make up for the exceptionally slow slack season this fall, but weíre doing really well now," he said.

Sibbach pointed out, however, that excellent business and skier numbers donít necessarily mean excellent numbers for the areaís lodging properties.

"The skiing numbers are wonderful to see, but thatís only part of our business," he said. "From all indications, the destination skier might be a little slower (this season). Weíll probably have fewer destination skiers than in the past, but the phones are ringing again, and thatís important."

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.