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Weather dampens some business, others do fine over rally week

Sunshine off and on throughout the week brought crowds to the Weirs, where some vendors had a chance to make up for lost revenue on the rainier days of the rally. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
June 24, 2009
WEIRS — Peeks of sunshine brought peaks of business to vendors throughout Motorcycle Week's fair-weather forecast.

The first Saturday of the weeklong event saw many shoppers out buying souvenirs, apparel and other sundry items as the clouds parted over the large tent village of shops along the streets of Weirs Beach. Restaurants and bars along the popular strip saw an increase as well when motorcyclists were able to get out and about more readily.

One popular stop was the Smoke Shack at the top of the boulevard. There, a breakfast buffet and a meaty lunch and dinner menu had the staff hustling to keep up with the crowds at times. Staff members reported that rain did dampen business a bit but visitors still managed to stop in for a bite to eat.

Cloudy skies were no boon to vendors of sunglass and tee shirts commemorating the 86th year of the Rally were an up and down business, too. One shirt salesman traveled all the way from Orlando, Fla., and said sales had been "lousy" by mid-week.

"A lot of people are just window shopping," he reported on Thursday. "It's a nice crowd but no one is spending a lot of money."

The Laconia Kiwanis Club was happy to report that they had a good week with donations for their annual raffle. Tickets for a chance at a custom paint job by Phantom Phenders, box seats for a Patriots game or nightly dinners at area restaurants sold well.

"The veterans are our biggest supporters," said incoming president Dick Metz. "Vets are always willing to give. They're a great group."

Dave and Suzan Scott-Strohmeyer sat in front of their lakeside home selling water, coffee and assorted treats. The couple reported business was just fine at their sidewalk table. Some people, Suzan said, were concerned about the weather but she and her husband had done well, despite the cloudy skies. Their home, the Castle Rest, offered rooms to vendors who were operating on the property and the added income was welcomed each year.

"We're happy," she said. "It's interesting just to be out here and see all the sights."

Some felt there were factors above and beyond the weather that effected business. A poor economy and rising gas prices had an impact also, they said.

Two men who were finding business brisk as usual were "Big Daddy" and "Rosebud." The pair from Florida hosted a bathroom venue in the Weirs Drive-In where an outdoor plaza of tented shops had been erected for the rally. There, customers were still willing to drop money in a jar in exchange for clean, attended facilities.

"This is one service that people are always going to use," laughed "Big Daddy." "We've been coming here for about 13 years. Business has been great. People don't always need a new shirt or any of the other stuff, but they always need (a bathroom)!"

The Broken Spoke Salon, a hub of activity over the week, reported business had been fine, too, but did concede it would have been nice to have had more sunshine. Their offerings of daily concerts, food, drink and assorted vendors in the yard behind the facility still attracted people in any weather to relax and have some fun.

"We'll take it," said General Manager Dave Shoe. "We've been fortunate; we're very happy with the week."

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