Business good but not great
Local merchants and restaurants give
mixed reviews on Fourth of July holiday
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Holiday business in the Wood River Valley
was brisk, but not exceptional, this Fourth of July weekend.
According to anecdotal information
gathered Tuesday, some merchants and restaurateurs fared very well, and others
hosted average business. At least one Hailey business broke its own records for
In the Wood River Valley, where tourism is
an economic cornerstone, the Fourth of July is a primary staple in the tourist
season. It is also unofficially considered Hailey’s holiday. Hailey hosts a
rodeo, parade and community fireworks display.
"We did phenomenal. It was the busiest
Fourth of July we’ve had since we’ve been in business at The Red Elephant, and
it was very strong at Zou as well," said Rob Cronin, owner of the two Hailey
Cronin said Hailey seemed much busier than
during previous Fourth of July holidays.
"There seemed to be a lot of tourists in
town," he said. "There were a lot of new faces at The Red Elephant."
Rob Santa, who owns Sturtevants Mountain
Sports stores in Warm Springs, Ketchum and Hailey, said business was "a little
bit soft." The Hailey store was certainly very busy, reflecting the north-south
nature of the weekend holiday.
"It seems like there was decidedly less
traffic over the holiday weekend than there was on any given weekday in April or
May," Santa said. "We were not unhappy about the weekend, but it seems like a
little bit of a fluke that the Fourth of July fell on a Sunday."
Santa said when the holiday falls
mid-week, tourists are more apt to stay for an entire week. As it was, most
people seemed to stay in the area for an extended weekend.
Santa also posed questions about larger
trends that might be at work. As it continues to grow and mature as a
full-service town, Hailey might be siphoning business that might have once gone
Also, as second and third homeowners who
aren’t always here increasingly dominate Ketchum and Sun Valley, business is
moving south, along with the average Wood River Valley resident.
While visitors might not have been
shopping and eating in Ketchum with their usual vigor, they were certainly
asking for information.
"Anecdotally, it was busy. Our visitor
center was inundated," said Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau
Communications Coordinator Amy Olson. "They said it was absolutely busier than
Olson said April, May and June were busier
than average in the Ketchum and Sun Valley area.
"We were seeing 82 percent occupancy for
the forecast, and it was filling up on the weekends during June, which is odd,"
Sun Valley Co. spokesman Jack Sibbach
called the weekend business "fair."
He said the Utah Bar Association typically
brings 400 people over the Fourth of July holiday, but switched dates this year.
"We weren’t at 100 percent," he said.
"There were some rooms available. I think that’s mostly because the group moved