Local businesses see uptick from weekend

NORTHSHIRE - For many businesses, Columbus Day weekend marks the last big push in consumer traffic that they are likely to see before ski season starts to take off sometime between late November and December. This year was no exception, but according to several people there was not only an uptick in business, but foot traffic as well.

"We been hearing nothing but positives about the weekend," said Executive Director of the Manchester and the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce, Berta Maginniss, when asked about what they had been hearing from Chamber members. "People said the traffic was like it was several years ago. We had people in town, we had people in our restaurants, we had people shopping and we the Chamber had more than 500 people in our door last week, which is huge."

Last year, in their previous location off Center Hill Road near Adams Park, Maginniss said they had about 120 people.

While there were varying factors that contributed to the good weekend, the one that several mentioned as being the most prevalent was the good weather.

Jacki Baker, owner of Mother Myrick's said the good weather and fall foliage were a part of the reason her business saw a slight increase over last year.

Although she has not officially calculated the numbers, Baker estimated that business was up about two percent and that foot traffic also appeared to be up slightly.

"From an economy standpoint I think the mood of the economy overall is so much stronger than it's been," she said. "And the town looks beautiful with the roundabout being completed and the infrastructure. I think besides looking attractive and being a real centerpiece it certainly provided the ability for people to move about much easier."

Scott Welsh, the co-owner of the Aspen Motel said that his rooms were full over the weekend, crediting the aforementioned conditions as a significant reason.

"The weather was in everyone's favor and I think they probably got reports that the color was real good," said Welsh. "Unfortunately this weekend was beyond [the peak], but people still had a lot of fun traveling around."

However, weather and foliage were not the only reasons that Welsh believed there was an increase in business and people in town. He believes that some of the events that were being held over the weekend - such as the crafts fairs in Manchester and Weston as well as the antiques show in Manchester - helped bring people into town as well.

Marketing Manager for Stratton Mountain Resort, Myra Foster, also indicated that the events that the resort was hosting played a significant role in drawing people to the region.

"I think it was a huge factor," said Foster. "There were two or three things going on at almost anytime for anyone. So, when you're planning a weekend you want the whole package and we offered that with hikes to the summit, foliage viewing, gondola rides; it was packed."

Although Foster could not provide hard numbers, she said that both business and foot traffic were up a little bit over last year throughout the course of the weekend.

Owner of the Northshire Bookstore, Chris Morrow, said that while he has not calculated the percentages, business over the weekend - and throughout the week leading up to it - were good. Although Morrow indicated that they did not see a sizeable increase, he said business had definitely increased over last year.

"I think it's been a great fall, weather wise. I think that might have inspired some people. The roundabout and the new look of town; I think that might have helped," Morrow said. "It was clearly quite busy and I was pleased with the sales from the week."

While many businesses reported an increase over last year, Amy Chamberlain, owner of The Perfect Wife, said the weekend was a little bit slower for her than last year.

"I think it being later in the month probably had something to do with that," said Chamberlain. "I think that because it was a little bit later in the month we had a very busy weekend the weekend before as well. So, I think people were afraid they were going to miss the colors by waiting until Columbus Day weekend so they came the weekend before."

One change that was noted by some people over the course of the weekend was the increased presence of international travelers.

V. P. of Marketing for Manchester Designer Outlets, Lana Hauben, said they saw license plates from several states throughout New England and other parts of the country as well as Canada and Maginniss also noted that there were more international travelers this year.

"The people we saw here, we saw an awful lot of people here from international travels," said Maginniss. "We saw Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, Canada; I mean a very strong international component."

Maginniss said that the Chamber has been doing a lot of International promotion targeting both the European market and Canada, which seems to be yielding dividends.

Co-owner of Casablanca Motel, Linda Benway - whose rooms were filled up over the weekend - also noted the increased International presence. "We had a combination of mostly out of state and some out of the country travelers. Probably about 80 percent out of state and 20 percent out of the country," Benway said. "Last year we saw fewer out of the country travelers."

According to a couple of people, shopping also saw an increase from past years.

Though she could not provide specifics due to confidentiality issues, Hauben indicated that business was good for their stores over the weekend. "According to most of our stores, business was very good over Columbus Day Weekend - in some cases, substantially increased over last year and in certain cases, there were record sales," Hauben said. "The confluence of beautiful, picture-perfect weather, an excellent foliage display and the overall Manchester experience brought people out in droves from everywhere in the Northeast and outside of the Northeast."

Owner of the Gourmet Deli and Cafe, Melanie Allen - who saw a 10 percent increase in business over last year - also noted the increased shopping from the people she saw come into her restaurant with shopping bags.

"It was nice to see people at the craft fair buying," Allen said. "You saw people shopping as well, which was a nice sign to see."


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