Somerset County experiences booming winter economy

February 4, 2019

Many business owners reported that this winter has been a boon to their operation as compared to previous seasons. The cold temperatures and snowy weather permitted a variety of them to profit handsomely.

“This winter has to be far ahead of last year,” said Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce. “First off, we’ve got the holiday weekend, which was crucial. We’ve had a consistent winter. I think the last few weekends have been phenomenal from a skier perspective. All in all, it’s been one of the best years we’ve seen in a while. The trickle down does work. I’ve seen the restaurants that have been pretty busy on the weekends. But there’s no numbers to back it up.”

Snowplow removal is one industry that benefited. So have ski shops. Some businesses, including hotels, have seen a drop-off in customers as visitors opt to stay at one of the local resorts.

Russell Bailey, owner of Russell Towing in Somerset, said his business has been hopping.

“So far this winter has been better than last year,” Bailey said. “I think we had more snow, and most of it was ice. I had a good winter last year. Don’t get me wrong. But I think we had more this month than last year.”

Craig Rosman, Route 31 Bike, Board & Ski in Somerset, said he’s seen a 20 to 25 percent increase in sales during the winter, which is his best since 2014-15.

“It’s been warm the last few years,” Rosman said. “Once it’s been warm, there’s not a lot of snow. But it’s been cold this year, which has been great. We’ve had snowshoeing because of the snow and extra cold.”

Hotels haven’t seen that much of an uptick though. Bhupinder Singh, owner of Days Inn in Somerset, said they’ve been at 30 percent occupancy this winter, which compares to the more than 70 percent they get during the summer.

“The travelers...in summer the school is out and we get a lot of families then,” Singh said. “The winter months are generally slower by 25 to 30 percent. We used to have a lot of skiers, but we don’t get any more of those. They’re pretty much staying at Seven Springs and Hidden Valley.

“The skiers used to be a survival for the winter. But the skier business is all gone. We used to be 60 to 70 percent on the weekend. But the skier occupancy has gone down to not even 5 percent.”