Small Businesses, Ski Resorts See Boost in Business

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Travelers may have a tough time driving through the Sierra on Interstate 80 on Christmas Eve as another winter storm rolls through. But that's of little concern to the owners the Soda Springs Store, a mom-and-pop grocery store in the heart of mountain vacation homes.

"It's a good thing, we're all really happy about it," said store owner Cheryl Paduano.

Business has picked up after a series of storms put two feet of snow on the ground around the store, and there's more on the way. Last year at this time, there was a paltry 2 inches of snow. Locals and vacationers are making more visits to the store when they are snowed in.

“We’ve been doing pretty good with the groceries because of the snow, everybody’s been stocking up with supplies, which has been mainly beer, and wine and liquor," said Paduano with a laugh.

Hats, gloves and mittens and other cold weather gear is selling more quickly, as well.

Sugar Bowl Resort, just down the road, was busy the day before Christmas Eve. An overnight storm put fresh powder on the slopes, which made David Cowan happy. He is visiting from Bainbridge Island, Washington, with his daughter Ellie.

“The snow’s excellent, and there’s plenty of it, there’s powder still even in the middle of the day," Cowan said.

Sugar Bowl Marketing Director John Monson said this time of year the resort relies less on weekend and day skiers and more on visitors who stay a week or more during the holidays. That's why Monson isn't worried about a storm that could reduce skiing on Christmas Eve.

“Here for the holidays, they might get a wet weather day, but really it’s going to clear, and they’re going to get ideal skiing no matter what over the next week," Monson said.

He said the Christmas holiday period is crucial for the skiing industry.

And Sugar Bowl is seeing more destination skiers from areas that don't have favorable ski conditions, something Sierra ski resorts have experienced during four years of drought.

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