Business boost on July 4th weekend

How did our local businesses fare this past Fourth of July weekend, what with the extended weekend, the smoke from the Schaeffer Fire, and the national press coverage of the “Killer Kern”?

Overall, very well. On the Kernville side of the lake, Mark Preston, owner of The Sierra Gateway Markets, said, “Every year it gets better, and this has been a huge week between the visitors the firemen, and the power pole people. And, it’s location, location, location.”

He noted that only the most determined and patient are catching fish in this area, but if you go up 99 to Salmon and Brush Creeks, they’re biting. By August, the snowmelt runoff from Mount Whitney will be done with, and local fishing will resume.
Sue Holland of Primo’s said that her customers were a great group, all in a good mood, though she estimates that business was off by about ten percent. She attributes some of that to visitors going home for a second round of fireworks on the fourth. Due to river conditions, Primo’s is not selling inner tubes this year. She weighed in on the irresponsible parents who were allowing the children in the river. “You can be fined for having glass, but not for their kids in the water.” At the same time, she worries that the bureaucratic “they” will limit the use of the Kern.

Chelsea Scamihorn, manager of the Kern River Brewery, said that weekends are consistently busy, but that Monday, and Tuesday the fourth were very, very busy. She heard no concerns about the smoke and advised any rafting adventurers to go with a commercial outfit for their safety.

SoCal Rafting owner Lucian Whitman said that the holiday period from July 1 through July 8 was fantastic. He had 50 to 250 people per day. He feels that the Kern River safety message has been sent, and needs to continue. As evidence of that effectiveness, he cites the almost complete absence of tubes on the water.

The flow is four times the normal, and all due to Mount Whitney snow melt. As an illustration of the flow, he asks the reader to use a regulation-size basketball as a one cubic foot measure. At 10 a.m., July 8, the river was running 3378 cubic feet per second, across a straight line. That’s a lot of basketballs.

And on the Isabella side of the lake, at Golden State Surplus, employee Sandy said it was “a really good weekend; a lot of people from Los Angeles and Bakersfield, and excellent valley support.” As she says, they sell a little bit of everything: t-shirts, pants, sweats, and even fifty-plus different colors and patterns of bandanas, in addition to World War II surplus jackets, binoculars, and ammo cases. And, lots of camping supplies that people forgot to pack: lanterns, candles, hats, life jackets, water shoes, batteries. Most importantly, they are not selling tubes due to the danger they pose to the under-informed people.

Gary Cope, owner of the Isabella Market, said that the Fourth of July was “by far the biggest weekend in several years. It was nice to see the lake and campgrounds packed again.” Lifelong resident and Manager Paul Goodman noted that the crowds “kept us all hopping. When the lake went down, it was a struggle. This year, the future’s really bright.”