Steamboat Springs Steamboat Smokehouse owner Fritz Aurin said the snowstorm that has left behind more than 3 feet of snow in the past two days is nothing but good news, not only for him but also for many local businesses.
And he’s not alone in attributing the potential for local businesses to generate more revenue to the recent snowfall — nearly 6 feet in the past two weeks. Some local business owners said more snow leads to more visitors who become customers and provide a boost for Steamboat’s economy.
“From my point of view, people who come to Steamboat for any reason are good possible restaurant customers,” he said. “The key is to get them here and to have a reason to get them here. ... There’s no doubt that it’s never too late to get the big snow.”
One segment of the local economy directly impacted by more snow is lodging properties.
Moving Mountains Chalets owner Robin Craigen said the phones started ringing Monday after news of the record snowfall of 27 inches in 24 hours at Steamboat Ski Area. Moving Mountains manages more than 40 luxury properties, including private homes and condominiums.
Craigen said lead time for his customers typically is about three months, but he’s optimistic this storm will lead to a strong close to what has been a “great year” for Moving Mountains. He’s also hoping that the recent snowfall helps next year’s bookings, as well.
“I think people are starting to realize that there’s still something to look forward to this season, and Steamboat has the best conditions in the state,” Craigen said. “They’re zeroing in on us. The best thing is, I think we all have a very short-term memory about January. Steamboat has a longstanding snow record. This is helping with that.”
Rabbit Ears Motel owner Greg Koehler said his customers typically are booking for a week or two out. He said the phone calls and Internet reservations starting picking up Monday. He said Rabbit Ears had strong bookings until MusicFest in early January but has experienced a lull since then.
“We were down in January,” Koehler said. “We were certainly down. It wasn’t considerable, but it wasn’t slight, either. It wasn’t the best of Januarys for us. (This storm) certainly helps our situation. My particular customers are more snow oriented. They’re skiers that come where the snow is.”
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten couldn’t say whether bookings had increased because of the record snowfall, but she said Ski Corp. saw a “huge spike” in traffic to the resort’s website, including videos and photo galleries. She also said Ski Corp.’s YouTube channel had 10,000 views, including the third most-watched video in the Denver area.
Local ski shops also reported additional business because of the snow.
Ski Haus owner Rod Schrage said snow always helps. He said January was tough because no one wanted to ski, but that has changed. Schrage said he’s already looking ahead because of the storm.
“I think the real impact to this business is going to be in March,” he said. “With the national press we’re getting from all the snow, this is going to assure us we’ll have a strong March for two reasons: The people will come, and we have good snow.”
Other retailers also are seeing an impact.
Typically, F.M. Light & Sons co-owner Del Lockhart said, he doesn’t even have to look at his watch to know the ski area is closed for the day. But in the past couple of days, Lockhart said the store has seen some novice skiers who are worn out from the deep snow. He said that’s not all that the good snow provides.
“The whole attitude is better,” he said. “People are excited about the snow. People who come from out of town want to see snow. I think it’s great for everybody.”
And it’s no surprise that local snowplow companies are busy. Shuv-It owner Frank Cefaratti said the weather is perfect for his business, turning what likely was a break-even year into a profitable one. He said his four-person crew has been working 12-hour shifts starting at 2 a.m. since Sunday to clear the snow for his 70 customers.
Smokehouse owner Aurin said that before the storm, this season was the worst snow year since 1980-81, when he lived in Dillon. He said snow is good for everyone. Aurin said he even heard a local fisherman talking about the snow resulting in swollen streams in the spring, something that was of great concern just a few weeks ago.
“You can’t see too much of it,” he said about the snow. “Even thought we’ve gotten out of the habit of dealing with it, we can’t complain about it at all.”
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com