So how is business these days?
In short, it’s fantastic.
As Tom Cage of Kittredge Sports said this week, “I’ve been too busy to look at the numbers. I just know they’re up and up a lot.”
For a guy like Cage who’s obsessed with numbers, saying he’s too busy to look at them is a story in and of itself.
But just as an example of the volume of business, he said he sold 183 pair of Hestra ski gloves over the Christmas holiday. The gloves retail for an average of $150/pair.
“We didn’t sell 183 pair all of last year,” he observed.
Wave Rave’s Steve Klassen said simply, “We’re crushing it.”
Crushing it means his gross sales during the month of November were more than double the previous year.
Wave Rave then followed it up with a December that was approximately 40% better than 2014.
“I think Mammoth did a pretty good job down south with the marketing,” he said. “They were definitely spending the money.”
Colin Fernie of Black Tie Ski Rentals said the business was not only slammed over Christmas, but that “the first 15 days of January didn’t slow down that much … and we had a crazy, busy MLK. People are booking further in advance,” he observed, adding, “Over the past few years, everyone’s been playing defense. Now it’s time to put the foot on the accelerator a little bit.”
For the lodging industry, however, Austria Hof owner Joe Mueller said, “It’s been terrible, horrible.”
He was kidding, of course. As he explained, every time we have a winter like this, developers get optimistic and build more hotels, more rooms. And then when things return to normal, you’ve got a glut in supply.
But for now, he’s not complaining. He had a record December and forecasts a record January.
Cheryl Witherill, who manages 1849, Sierra Megeve and Snowbird condominiums said her units are 90% booked this weekend as opposed to perhaps 50% last year. MLK weekend was also sold out this year as opposed to last.
She said that even looking out into March and April, those numbers are trending very high.
Her biggest issue: labor. Whether it’s because people left town after the many years of drought, or are not here because they could not find or afford housing, the upshot is that there is a big labor shortage and “people throughout town are feeling it.”
As Fernie said, “We hired everyone we wanted to at the beginning of the season … but we could probably hire a few more.”
Cage added that he was rescued over Christmas break by the many Mammoth kids (now young adults) who returned home for the holidays and chipped in to make a little money.
Tom Smith, General Manager of Village at Mammoth Operations, said he’s been struggling to fill a lot of positions, notably shuttle drivers, front desk personnel and housekeeping.
As for room occupancy, January is shaping up as a “best ever,” with occupancy of 76 to 78% for the month – generally full on the weekends and enjoying occupancies of 65 to 80% midweek.
The Booky Joint’s Dave Leonard said, “We’re definitely doing better, but … last summer was a record summer. We actually do better in poor snow years just because summer starts earlier.”
Ironically, the snowy weather actually hurt Leonard on Christmas Eve because some people decided to stay home versus go out to get that last-minute gift. “We were way down on Christmas Eve because of the storm. Normally that’s the best day of the year for me.”
As far as real estate is concerned, Matthew Lehman of Matthew Lehman Real Estate said, “For me, I see a direct correlation as to more people in town = more buyers = more transactions.”
“I had a guy come in, look at a house once, make an offer, and we’re closing next week.”
Lehman said that according to the data over the past decade that he’s crunched, the biggest real estate sales months tend to be October and March – the transaction occurring two to three months after the initial query.
The strong Mammoth ski season is having a down-valley effect.
Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tawni Thomson said that occupancy rates for Bishop’s hotels and motels was up 5.5% in December (over 2014) and is tracking 18% higher year-over-year for January.
Thoughts of the week …
1.) When did “events” become “happenings?”
You visit the Mammoth Mountain website and they no longer simply give you a calendar of events. well, they do, but they also have categories listed under Things To Do titled “January happenings” “February Happenings,” etc.
Does this really influence outlook or behavior?
If I have a meeting with the IRS on my calendar, if I call it a happening will I feel better about it?
Hmmm … I need to call my wife and inform her about all the happenings on the Carleton family calendar that I’ve scheduled for the rest of January.
2.) Speaking of my wife, we went down to the Big Pine Animal Shelter to have a family dog-walking day and you can see where this is headed.
The shelter is packed right now, which is kind of interesting because the local economy would appear like it’s pretty healthy (see above) and co-founder of ICARE, Ted Schade, says that in general, people let go of their animals as an absolute last resort.
One theory could be that owners of rental properties are becoming less accommodating to pets. Another theory is that the Bishop housing market is tight, with rental rates edging higher, meaning it could be having an effect on disposable income and people’s ability to afford/ care for a pet.
At the shelter, there were about 30 to 35 dogs – a lot of pit bull mixes as well as chihuahuas.
The number of chihuahuas surprised me … small dogs tend to get adopted more easily just because, well, they don’t eat as much.
They certainly don’t eat as much as a goat.
That’s what my wife told me three days later when I came home to find a 6-year old chihuahua named Katrina in my living room.
And from Bodine’s desk…
Sentencing for Dolores “Lola” Marsh has been pushed back to give her time to come up with restitution. Rachele Hunnekens of the California Attorney General’s Office said in an email that Marsh agreed to a sentence of two years in prison and a restitution order of $322,000. Marsh embezzled from 2009 to 2013 while a bookkeeper for Inyo Mono Body Shop. She appeared in court on January 20, but her sentencing was postponed to April 6 because she has not yet paid the first $100,000 of restitution to victims. This payment is anticipated from the sale of her home. If she does not pay the restitution by April 6, it will expose her to a longer sentence. Marsh will begin serving time in jail in Mono County on January 26, 2016.