Small businesses in San Bernardino County mountain communities are struggling as tourism took a major hit from winter storms battering the area.
Locals say although this time of year is typically a busy season, a series of historic winter storms battering the area has scared off tourists who would normally hit the slopes and support small businesses during their stay.
The snowstorm blocked off road access to many San Bernardino mountain communities earlier this year and left many residents stranded without food or power.
After the snowstorms have cleared, local shop owners are truly hoping visitors will decide to come up and support the mountain communities that need it most.
“All of our businesses here run off tourists and we don’t have the tourists here,” said Alice Braune, owner of Alice’s Vintage Cottage. “I’m here every day talking to myself.”
Braune’s shop in downtown Wrightwood is hurting as many Angelenos have forgone their usual trip to the slopes this year amid continually dangerous conditions.
“It started with the big first storm we had in February,” said Braune. “Highway 2 was closed to the public and only open for residents. They never came and they haven’t come back. I’m hoping that it starts up again and they come back.”
According to Caltrans officials, Highway 2 has been closed for over two weeks since the winter storms began on Feb. 26. Without public access, mountain communities’ local economies took a big hit and they are working towards recovery.
Some businesses, however, took a softer hit as locals were stranded in their hometowns awaiting help.
“There were days where we were the only food and drink establishment open in town, so I think that’s part of why we did so well,” said Lindsay Crawford from Wrightwood Brew Co.
“We had eight feet of powder up here and we couldn’t get up here,” said Wade Seligman, a Lancaster resident. “Thank you Mountain High for being open. Thank you Caltrans for keeping the roads open.”
Now that the worst of the storm is over, SoCal ski resorts are opening up again and hoping visitors searching for a wintry escape will head up.
“You can tell that it’s fresh, you can tell it just came down, it’s beautiful,” said Selenie Lecuona, an Adelanto resident enjoying Mountain High.
Resort officials said they were closed for 10 days during the worst of the storms, but a silver lining to all that extra snowfall is an extension of their current season, likely through May.
“I would encourage everyone to come to Wrightwood,” said Braune. “It’s a beautiful town, very peaceful. Come and enjoy yourself.”