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|Tombstone businesses entering the dead zone|
|Written by Krystin Sorich|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2012 04:11|
Every year, the town is affected by what locals call “the dead zone,” which is when revenue falls and businesses struggle. Local business owners are preparing for a rough few months.
“On average, retail sales in Tombstone are strongest in February and March,” said Robert Carreira, director of the Cochise College Center for Economic Research. “Sales begin to decline in April and May, and then fall off considerably in June.”Burt Webster, assistant manager of the O.K. Corral, said he estimates profits will decrease by at least 50 percent during this year’s dead season.
“The snowbirds have flown the coop, the kids are still in school, and the town will be dead until Memorial weekend,” said Carey Granger, senior tour guide for the Good Enough Mine Underground Tour.
August is the slowest month of the year for retail sales in Tombstone, Carreira said. Sales are typically down more than 40 percent.
George Barnes, city clerk and city manager, said if you’re selling dry goods, such as hats shoes and belts, you may have a more difficult time with business during these down months.
“When tourists come, they are probably going to eat, they are probably going to drink, and if they stay more than a day, then they are probably going to sleep somewhere,” Barnes said. “But, they don’t have to buy a hat and they don’t have to buy boots and T-shirts. If you have something unique, you might do OK.”
Lee McKechnie, owner of Tombstone Trolley and Helldorado Town, said his revenue has decreased by 75 percent, but is not sure whether the lack of tourism is to blame or the fact that there is four other gun fighting groups now.
Some business owners, however, say the dead zone can be the ideal time to make a dent in the business to-do list.
“When its not busy, you have time to fix things, clean up, do inventory, reorder, and make plans for the future,” Webster said. “It can be beneficial. If it’s so busy to where you have no time to breathe, then you really don’t have time to take care of any of those things.”
Barnes said many businesses lower their prices and advertise other special offers to try and get visitors in their stores.
“You just have to do what you can to get through,” he said. “Some businesses furlough employees because it’s necessary.”
McKechnie has his own approach to tackling the dead zone.
“I’m networking between my own businesses, but the town of Tombstone needs to know its OK to network between all the businesses,” he said. “We need to not compete. We need to all work together.”
McKechnie said he has cut down to only two shows per day, and instead of a four-man show, it’s been cut to three men.
McKechnie said in order for small businesses stay afloat during the off seasons in tourist towns it’s essential to plan ahead.