Drier weather helps some South Shore businesses

A bicyclist rides east on Lake Tahoe Boulevard in 2011.

A bicyclist rides east on Lake Tahoe Boulevard in 2011.

Some South Lake Tahoe businesses are benefiting from the shortfall of snow this season, claiming the warmer weather has lead to the busiest winter in years.

At South Shore Bikes, owner Hec Hernandez said the business planned on being closed for three months after Christmas. But thanks to a boost in business, his store is now open five days per week.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” he said, “we weren’t expecting this.”

Many businesses are reporting better figures this season as locals and tourists shy away from traditional winter snow sports.

Hernandez said it has resulted in a boom for businesses that typically stall out with the coming of snow. He’s never seen anything like it since he opened the bike shop about 25 years ago.

It’s never really been like this,” he said. “This has been the only (year) we’ve really been busy during the winter.”

Aside from some ice on certain bike trails, many paths are clear and dry — an uncommon occurrence in late January, Hernandez said. People are now making reservations in advance, as forecasters predict sunny skies ahead.

“We wish there was winter for the resorts sake and for the sake of the economy in Tahoe,” he said. “But I’m glad I’m here, and can give the locals and tourists something to enjoy here in Tahoe.”

The Tahoe Bleu Wave, a 70-foot tour yacht that launches out of Zephyr Cove, is also seeing a higher number of customers, Boat Manager Tori Freestone said.

The vessel normally holds daily noon to 2 p.m. lunch cruises during the wet season. However, it is now running an additional 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. cruise because lake tours are in high demand and the lunch cruise was selling out.

“Due to there not being too much snow, people are coming up here like ‘what is there to do?’” she said.

Lake Tahoe Cruises also has been busier because of the drier weather, said Teri Sweeney, director of sales and marketing for Aramark Lake Tahoe. The company has added an extra cruise on Wednesday evenings to appease the crowds.

So far the new cruise has been a success, rising from 22 passengers in its opening weeks to 147 a week ago. Lake Tahoe Cruises has since increased the capacity of the boat to 250 people, so it doesn’t have to turn anyone away.

“It’s been a great success story for us,” Sweeney said.

Additionally, calm and glassy water — a result of the season and less lake traffic — has made for excellent stand-up paddleboard conditions, said Chris Brackett, owner of South Tahoe Standup Paddle.

It has led to some folks to take to the lake near the middle of winter.

“People are getting out there,” he said.

While winter numbers aren’t anywhere near those experienced during a typical summer, Brackett said they are high for the season.

“This is the busiest winter for stand-up,” he said, “hands down.”

The weather also provides a rare opportunity for locals and visitors to have Lake Tahoe, pretty much, all to themselves.

“There are no boats and no people,” he said. “The lake is dead calm, glass. You own it. It’s like your own amazing place.”


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