It is a rainy July morning outside The Sunshine Café on Columbia Avenue, Rossland. Owner and chef Randi Wanner tends to her usual crowd of dedicated locals, and manages to satiate the new faces that come in out of the cloudy cold as well. It has not been a customarily desirable Kootenay summer thus far.
“It’s not that the tourists aren’t coming through town. They just aren’t staying very long,” says Wanner. She is quick to add that weather is certainly a factor.
“I see the golfers and bikers from out of town falling back on their ‘plan B’ quite a bit lately. They seem to move along more quickly than other years.”
Wanner adds that while tourist traffic is down, and she misses the bustle of a brilliant summer weekend on Columbia Ave, it is the loyal, local customers that keep her pancakes flipping.
Meanwhile, Tyler Merringer, bike mechanic extraordinaire and owner of Revolution Cycles, echoes this sentiment from one block down the street.
“Sure, the fact that the Seven Summits is still a ski slope in certain zones is hurting business. Our bike rentals could be down as much as forty percent from last year’s tourist numbers. Luckily, the support and increased interest in biking by the local community is really saving the day.”
A few storefronts away, local legend and Powderhound owner Don Vockeroth enjoys what is a much-deserved sunny day. He feels people don’t shop as much when the weather is less than perfect, but he remains calm and positive.
“The tourists are fewer and farther between this season, but we deal with it by putting stuff on sale. It keeps the cash flow positive, though not much profit.”
It’s not all cloudy skies, however.
The Gold Fever Follies’ Ray Furlotte reports that his numbers are up considerably.
“We did embark on a massive marketing campaign which may have contributed to our rise in numbers. I did not want to say anything in case it may ‘jinks’ the rest of my season.”
There may be a ray of sunlight coming our way soon, however, as the Seven Summits is due to open this week.