Winter Park merchants surprised about snowball crowd purchases
March 12, 2013
FRASER – Nearly every business in the Fraser Valley and beyond braced for the SnowBall Music Festival by stocking shelves, hiring security, and staffing stores with extra employees.In the aftermath of the March 8-10 event, the general consensus around the valley seems to be surprise at how well behaved the crowd was as well as surprise at what the crowd chose to participate in and spend their money on.”We had people buying a $200 bottle of Dom Prignon champagne with a 30 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon,” said Clark Lipscomb, who is a principal in the company that is developing the property the event was held on and who’s wife, Meredith, operates Icebox Liquors. Lipscomb also reported the convenience store located at the entrance to the venue did 10 times its normal weekend business.”What I do like is bringing a group like this to town that is not likely to come here,” Lipscomb said. “I don’t think you can pay for the marketing this does for the town.”While some retail outlets and restaurants reported a good jump in their business compared to this time last year, others reported nearly flat sales.Cooperative effortCatherine Ross, executive director of the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber of Commerce, said she believed some businesses did better than others. Overall, she said she believes the event was a success for the local economy and that she was excited to see the event take place without any major issues, something she attributes to the large amount of pre-planning by both businesses and the various public service entities.”I am always proud of our public agencies, but we should get an award for this,” Ross said. “Everyone had a purpose of keeping everyone safe and they pulled it off.”Hundreds of hours were devoted to pre-planning for the event by the local police force, EMS, fire districts, chamber of commerce, and public works entities, which helped the event to run smoothly. Comments from emergency service and public works personnel indicate the crowd was relatively respectful.A good crowd”I was very enlightened about how well mannered everybody was on the buses,” said Mike Fudge, general manager of First Transit/The Lift Shuttle, which operated the shuttles for the festival and shuttled 18,000 to 20,000 people over the weekend. “To be honest, it was a lot better group than we anticipated.””Clearly these people like to party,” said Fraser/Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor. “But they were respectful to our staff.”Trainor even reported that a few of the officers working the festival received hugs from the SnowBallers. He said statistics about arrests and crime during the event wouldn’t be available until late this week or early next week.”We found them very pleasant to deal with and very easy to manage,” said Jeff Williams, owner of the Winter Park Pub. “As easy of a group we have dealt with (during) large events in Winter Park in the past.”Lodging was at capacity for nearly all of the Fraser Valley and Winter Park Resort and spread to Granby and beyond.Kristy Meyer, owner of Destination West at Beaver Village, reported the company had “covered the bases as far as doing what we could to cover damages,” by charging deposits, setting ground rules, and hiring security. “We didn’t have very many problems at all,” she said.Restaurants and bars reported busy lunches and breakfast business with normal to slow dinner hours.”We had a slow start on Friday but it picked up as the weekend went on and overall turned out to be pretty good,” said Ian Gough, owner of Smokin’ Moe’s in Winter Park.After parties were considered successful at a number of the restaurants who chose to host them, even though more tickets were sold to the after parties than people showed up.Retailers also saw some business from the festival-goers with Christy Sports selling nearly every pair of winter boots they had available, though they saw no uptick in ski rentals.”We may have lost some business because of all of the chaos but we did see some revenue,” said Jim Peterson, area manager for Christy Sports.Winter Park Resort also reported they were pleased with the sales from the four-pack deal on day passes they offered over SnowBall weekend as well as happy to have every available room full at the resort’s lodging facilities.Another consensus of the business owners and operators is that they would look forward to next year’s SnowBall, if it were to return to the area.”Its nice to have this one over so we can plan better and know what were up against if we do this again next season,” Williams said.