Wallace Businesses Stay Steady During Winter Season | Business
Several months of winter have taken their toll on the Silver Valley town of Wallace. Empty storefronts are scattered along the the downtown core that weren’t empty during last summer’s tourist season. With 60 store fronts to fill and only 780 core residents of the small town, the off season is a constant struggle.
Inside the Red Light Garage, a lunch crowd chows down on burgers and fries. The steady business has been a surprise to the restaurant’s co-owner, Jamie Baker. He says this year, it’s been better.
“The long term outlook, I feel, is really positive out here,” Baker said. He’s owned the restaurant on 5th and Pine for almost nine years.
“People come out in the summer. They say, 'what a great place to have a business.' Quite a few people want to open up a business here and then they realize they have seven months of winter. You have to find quite a few niches to survive and a lot of people don’t survive,” Baker said.
It makes you wonder what’s keeping the open businesses a float during the off-season. It isn’t the ice still stuck to the sidewalks, or the cold wind blasting through the streets. Baker says megaload transports on their way north to Canada are helping business.
He knows when they’re there. The megaloads stay overnight in a parking lot across from the Wallace Visitor's Center. A Super-Stop gas station clerk confirmed the increase of business. She said it's been busy lately with the traveling transports.
Megaload employees stay overnight at the Hercules Inn, which Baker also owns. About 40 workers come into town to stay and eat. His inn is staying full this winter with megaload transport employees and skiers. He says the business is much better than last year.
Even with that business boom, the streets are still lonely. But come summer, they’ll be back to the bustling activity the tourist town is known for. Wallace will be introducing a new blues festival this year and looking forward to another accordion festival.
“It’s a beautiful area,” Baker says. “People want to live here. When you have to deal with just the locals in the winter time, the pies cut a lot of ways into your business.”
The megaloads are expected to continue through Wallace via I-90 until April. City council unanimously gave the mayor authority last December to enter into a contract with Mammoet Canada Wester, to use the parking lot for megaload parking and maintenance.