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Otter Tail County businesses share varied fishing opener expectations

The Governor's Fishing Opener won't have the hoopla that the event has brought to host cities in years past. Only a few businesses representatives really expect to see a large increase of business with this year's more cautious approach.

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Business for Landmark Liquors hasn't suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

Those involved with the upcoming Governor's Fishing Opener believe the event will boost Otter Tail County's economy , particularly in the hospitality industry, following the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, do businesses in and near Perham feel the same way?

The Governor's Fishing Opener won't have the hoopla that the event has brought to host cities in years past. In interviews, only a few businesses representatives really expect to see a large increase of business with this year's more cautious approach. If anything, several of these businesses see the fishing opener as a way to kick off what's expected to be a busy and successful tourist season for Otter Tail County.

The pandemic has affected a variety of industries in several different ways. For Perham's Landmark Liquors, their store has been thriving throughout the past year. According to Manager Robert Dreger, the liquor industry has had great sales throughout the pandemic.

Dreger said the fishing opener always causes a small bump in the liquor business because more people are in the area. He can always tell when it's arrived because sales are higher that weekend than in others.

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Several different shops are located in Front 20 Outfitters, including the Perham's fly fish shop. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

Perham's Front 20 Outfitters, on the other hand, has experienced quite the opposite. Co-owner Roxanne Harthan said the pandemic affected their sales negatively. Though, while sales have been down for the past year, they're starting to increase again.

Harthan believes the fishing opener won't affect their sales very much but also said that it signifies the beginning of tourist season. She expects the next summer to be one of the best business-wise because many vacationing families are looking for ways to relax.

Owner of the Willow Bookstore Megan Wells said that, while her shop has needed to make a few adjustments over the past year due to the pandemic, sales have only been slightly below average. From what she's heard, everyone in Perham is preparing for a busy tourist season.

After the fishing opener and entering the summer, Wells said she believes the Willow Bookstore is getting closer sales-wise to where it was pre-pandemic.

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Plenty of Perham's community businesses are located on Main Street. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

Holly's Resort, a resort located near Battle Lake, hasn't experienced a large change throughout the pandemic. In spring 2020, they had fewer people than usual, however, by that June, business picked up quite a bit.

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While the owners, Steve, Barb, Paul and Sarah Jensen, are expecting a busy and successful tourist season, they haven't noticed any differences with the upcoming fishing opener. They've only experienced two extra bookings at their resort.

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