Business closes, citing financial hardship from summer smoke
With the smoky summer months behind us, Rogue Valley residents can take a breath of fresh air.
But for some, the burden goes beyond waiting for the smoke to clear.
Some businesses are still recovering from the financial pressure placed on them by the smokey summer. One failed to recover entirely.
This time of year, Ashland Outdoor Store should be ramping up their winter inventory for people ready to hit the slopes. But instead, they're clearing their racks and packing their bags.
"I didn't know how bad it was until Steve, the owner had a meeting with us all. And he started crying and was like, 'I'm sorry guys, but it makes sense to close the store right now because we just cant recover from the smoke this summer,'" says Megan O'Melia, a sales associate at Ashland Outdoor Store.
For nearly 25 years, they've been a resource for locals and tourists to purchase outdoor equipment and get information on the best local excursions. But this summer was different.
"Having it just be smokey for 3 and a half months straight - no one wants to be outside at all, nevermind spending extended periods of time outside running, buying running tights or whatever," O'Melia says.
The Ashland Chamber of Commerce says they're aware of the challenges this summer presented for local shops, and are working to help them get the business to get back on their feet by pushing local shopping this holiday season.
"The City of Ashland sponsored free parking on Saturdays and Sundays in the parking garage which is awesome. A lot of these initiatives we always have them going on, but this year we wanted to boost it even further because we knew the summer was hard with the smoke," says Kelsey Frantz, the projects and special events coordinator for the chamber.
It's too late for Ashland Outdoor Store, but they hope - for the sake of other businesses - this summer was a wake up call for the Rogue Valley to be proactive about forest management.
They will be open until all their inventory is gone. They thank their customers of 25 years and encourage others to come by before closing.