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Rained out: Weather a mixed bag for businesses

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Businesses in the Perham area usually get a boost from an influx of tourists in the warm summer months.

But this year’s long, nearly unprecedented stretch of winter weather and the more recent string of rain and unseasonably cold temperatures have presented unique challenges to business owners and managers.

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Tim Sucher, owner and operator of Hook, Line, and Sucher resort on Rush Lake, said the weather made it difficult to get outdoor work, such as landscaping, done in anticipation of the tourist season.

“We had to cancel for open fishing,” he said, because the resort didn’t have time to get things ready for customers.

“The water wasn’t on,” and there were “still frozen water lines and sewer lines,” he said.

Sherry Biltz, who owns Sunset Beach Resort with her husband, George, said “it was really difficult to get ready.  You can only work so much a day when you’re frozen.”

Sucher estimates that he lost two to three weeks of business out of 10-12 viable ones, and is considering offering a discount later in the season to attract additional customers to make up the difference.

“You get less people wanting to go fishing, that’s for sure. They just don’t want to come up to the lake, especially when it rains every weekend,” he said.

Biltz had a different take – “The fisherman have loved the weather. Even the fish have warmed up. People are kind of used to whatever nature brings them,” she said.

Anglers at Sunset Beach may benefit from an “offshore wind,” she explained, which doesn’t catch as much cold from the lake. She described her business as “totally unaffected” by the inclement weather, saying that renters “come prepared to play cards and just hang out together” in the event of rain or unfavorable temperatures.

The weather hasn’t just affected area resorts, however.

Brian Osterday owns Wildlife Minnesota, a fur shop on Main Street in Perham.

“Less people are out and about and less people come to your town to shop and whatnot because the weather’s been cool and rainy,” he said.

Jodi Ramsay, co-owner of Jean’s the Right Plant Place, said that her seasonal plans were delayed by two to three weeks.

“We had snow on the lot until very early in May.  Usually we have all our tables and everything set up by that time. It definitely set us back from starting planting, because we couldn’t put plants outside like we usually do, so we had to delay some of our shipments,” she said.

Ramsay says Jean’s hasn’t moved as much inventory and had to cancel some items on a June shipment due to the “slow start” in May.

“Even in the heavy rain,” though, she said there are still plenty of people who visit the store, because they “are planting no matter what.”

“If they want to have a garden, they are doing it regardless,” she added.

Other businesses have been thriving in the cold spring.

“The long winter has been great for us,” said Marcus Zitzow, the general manager of Zorbaz Restaurant and Bar on Little Pine Lake.

“As the winter kept lingering, the greater the cabin fever set in, and it was just really great. People were coming down often,” he said.

Periwinkle, a retail store in Ottertail, had a “fabulous Memorial Day weekend” because the weather forced residents to find indoor activities to do, such as shopping, said owner/proprietor Stephanie Ellingson.

Zitzow offered his prediction for the remainder of the season: “By July, the whole community in Perham is just going to blow up and it’s going to be awesome for everybody. I think it’s going to be a shorter kind of busy season, but it’s going to be more compact. People will bust out of their shells and ‘go wild,’ if you will.”

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jbowe
Joe Bowen, a 2009 graduate of St. John's University, is the newest member of the Perham Focus team. He enjoys writing, rugby, and hamburgers.
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