Planning important for businesses in down cycles

Because Nakusp relies on tourism, how do businesses manage in the off season?

Running a business can be difficult, especially when it comes to dealing with the post-Christmas lull that takes place every year.

Because shoppers are trying to pay off any debt they may have incured, spending money on non-necessities doesn’t make a lot of sense, making it a struggle for some businesses to cope until things start picking up in the spring.

So how do businesses especially smaller ones manage during this down period?

Sometimes it depends on the business.

“We definitely have our ups and downs,” said Jennifer Cross, owner and operator of Jennifer’s Chocolates. “January is really slow, and we actually take a week off and shut down, and it’s kind of about getting our stock back up after Christmas. Then we have February and we actually get Valentine’s Day, so we’re pretty lucky in that way.”

Cross said saving money made during peak times is important. Money made from sales at Christmas helps get her through the January slump until things pick up for Valentine’s Day. After Valentine’s Day it’s another slump until the Easter holidays. After that the shop pretty much breaks even until summer when tourists start arriving in the village.

Ron Balske, co-owner of both Touch of Fashion and Trendy Treads also knows the struggle of running a business during the quieter times of the year.

“It can be a struggle for some, but I think if you try to be progressive and keep up with having fresh product lines it can still be OK,” he said. “You have to try and compete with what’s out there. You can’t be in a cocoon and think you’ve got a captive little market. The internet is big, and in regional areas people like to go out of town, so you have to compete with that.”

While Nakusp gets a good amount of visitors in the winter because of heli-skiing operations based out of the K2 Rotor Lodge, not many of the skiers come into the shops, but that doens’t mean the effect of them being here isn’t felt.

“With regards to the heli-skiers, when they walk around we don’t get that much income, but from the residual income, by the K2 hiring extra staff and all their employees, and them getting their wages, that filters through the town, that is a definite bonus and a plus for our community,” said Balske.

Though having the heli-skiers and summer tourists are great for the community, Cross thinks it’s important to recognize locals as well.

“Tourists are great in the summer,” she said. “But at the end of the day it’s going to be the locals that get us through the long winter months and that’s really our bread and butter.”