Tourism fireworks

Businesses report strong numbers, some sellouts July 4 week

Bob Vosper, right, and Jo Shuman traveled from Kingston area to Saranac Lake. Here, at the photographer’s prompting, they admire the sights on Main Street Monday afternoon. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

This year’s Independence Day and the subsequent weekend saw an uptick in visitors in the Tri-Lakes area, according to many local businesses.

Saranac Lake

Bustling down Main Street and Broadway this past weekend were clumps of tourists scanning the shops and eateries in the village.

People walk and drive along Main Street and sit in front of Origin Coffee Monday in downtown Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

The Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery saw an uptick this year compared to years past. In 2017 from July 4 to 7, 110 people visited the gallery. In 2018 on those same four dates, the gallery had 188 visitors. This year it had 202 visitors those four dates. The uptick could be because more people had Thursday and Friday off this year and were able to travel for an entire weekend and take a vacation, according to owner of Ampersound Mark Coleman. Last July 4 was a Wednesday, and in 2017 it was a Tuesday. Next July 4 will be on a Saturday.

At the Artists Guild Gallery, the busiest day by far was Saturday. Mark Kurtz, who was working in the gallery on July 4, said there was a steady stream of traffic and items were sold to visitors. According to the gallery’s records of number of visitors, July 4 saw 60 visitors and July 6 saw 99.

Several shop owners saw an increase following the holiday, as opposed to on the Fourth itself.

Josh Wilson, co-owner of Origin Coffee Co. with his wife Jecinda, said that the coffee shop was closed on July 4 because it was one of the few days off they could have. They’re often busy, so they decided to take advantage of the holiday, he said. But the following day was shocking.

“Friday after the fifth was far and away our busiest day since we’ve opened four years ago,” Wilson said.

He said Saturday was also busy but that it typically is, especially with the farmers market open. But Wilson said this year was probably 50% busier than the same day last year. He added that Winter Carnival is typically the coffee shop’s busiest day of the year, but not after this past Friday.

Overall, he said, he’s seen more visitors in the village this summer.

Coleman said that at his store he saw two big days of business, the two days after July 4. The holiday was a tad slower for him, he said.

“I had two very good days,” Coleman said. “Constant traffic.”

He estimates that over those two days he had between 120 and 150 people, and that approximately one out of every two people bought something.

Coleman said he’d heard from visitors that lodging was difficult to find because it was filled. According to the Hotel Saranac General Manager Jacob Kipping, the hotel was at full capacity on July 4. All 102 rooms were filled. On Friday, 98 rooms were filled, and on Saturday night 63 rooms were filled. He said this was better than last year, but having the Fourth on Thursday rather than a Wednesday may have contributed to that.

Not all saw crowds coming through their doors, however. Jeremiah Mochamer, owner of the Owl’s Nest Pizzeria, said he saw fewer people than in previous years, which he attributes to the good weather.

“When it’s nasty out, I tend to see more people, Mochamer said.

He added that he did see many people out in the town. Also, before the fireworks he tends to see a rush, but this year was quieter for the Owl’s Nest.

At souvenir shops, many sought items bearing the name and logo of Saranac Lake. Roseanne Canning, an employee of Adirondack Trading Company, said she had a large number of visitors looking for souvenirs bearing Saranac Lake and its logo. She sold out of quite a few items.

The local eatery Borracho Taco also saw an enormous wave of people and on Sunday had to close because it ran out of food after Saturday.

“You guys ate all of our food again! Well… most of it. Enough for us to not be able to open today,” their Facebook post said on Sunday morning. “We hope everyone is enjoying these crazy busy summer weekends in Saranac Lake! We will see you all on Tuesday when we’re prepped up!”

Lake Placid

Carrie Gentile, communications coordinator for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, said Lake Placid felt busier than usual to her, but she didn’t have numbers to support that. She said ROOST will know more when occupancy tax is collected, but that Crowne Plaza, the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort and the Mirror Lake Inn were all sold out. And they weren’t the only ones.

“We were sold out all weekend,” said Genvieve Benware, a manager for the Hampton Inn and Suites in Lake Placid.

Benware said this wasn’t an anomaly, though, as the hotel typically fills up in July and August.

Restaurants in Lake Placid also saw a boost. Smoke Signals barbecue restaurant also sold out of food, according to staff, and put a sign on the door saying it was closed.

Gentile said that other events such as CAN/AM hockey, a lacrosse tournament, Ironman training camps and an annual barbecue festival all helped bring in a lot of people and might have caused the high numbers that were seen in Lake Placid this weekend.

“So we were very event driven and holiday driven,” Gentile said.

Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake saw a similar uptick in tourism. The Park Motel and Cabins and Tupper Lake Motel were completely filled up. They hold 19 and 18 rooms, respectively. Heidi Schuller, owner of Tupper Lake Motel, said that the past three years have not been great, and that last year was pretty bad, but this year has been a welcome change so far.

Katie Stuart, ROOST’s Tupper Lake and Hamilton County regional marketing manager, said that although there is no hard data to support this, Tupper Lake was booming.

“Traffic through the town is crazy right now,” Stuart said on Monday.

Stuart said many people are coming into the ROOST office on Tupper Lake’s on Park Street and plenty of people are making their way through the downtown business area and around the new bandshell, which hosted its first concert July 3.