In Mammoth Lakes, the word is dry – weather, customers and bottom lines. Brent Truax, President of the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said he sees a “significant decline” in business with some who face closure. With gloom afoot, word also circulated that Mammoth Mountain Ski Area had cut the pay of its workers.
Truax, of the Westin Monache, said forecasts show a big decline in transient occupancy tax and sales tax. He sees TOT down by $1.2 million to $3 million for the winter with sales tax down too. Truax said, “The businesses I talk to report a very rough January and some may even close.”
The Chamber President pointed out that in Southern California, beach weather has arrived which has turned would-be ski trips into sand and surf. President’s Day did see a good crowd in Mammoth but dry weather reports persist.
At an earlier Town Council meeting, Recreation Commissioner Teri Stehlik told the Council that with the economic down turn and now no snow, “It’s scary out there.” At that same meeting, John Vereuck said he believes skier visits are at an all time low with TOT, sales and property taxes down too. He said it’s “very tough” right now in the private sector. For some, he said, there are no pay checks, benefits, retirement or health insurance this winter.
Estimates of business decline in lodging and retail range from 30% to 40%. For businesses that totally rely on snow, it’s worse. Jim Ouimet of Mammoth Dog Teams said he ran his dogs for a few days when snow fell, but after that Ouimet said the Mono County Sheriff’s Officers carried out winter training on his trails which cut up the snow with quads and snowmobiles. “It ruined our trails,” said Ouimet.
Dawn Vereuck, owner of Mountain Living and a member of the Chamber Board, said hardly anyone is walking through the doors of her store. However, the remodel portion of her business is up with second homeowners and others ready to remodel and invest in that way.
Many have begun to look toward spring and summer for improved business. The Mammoth Chamber and others now support a developed Fourth of July celebration in Town to attract visitors.
Back on the present, word on the street in Mammoth Lakes this week – pay cuts at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. CEO Rusty Gregory was unavailable for comment. He traveled to Sacramento for the California Travel and Trade Show. We expect to speak with him this week. Reports to the Sierra Wave indicated that the Mountain cut pay by as much as 10%.