Spring season sweeps coastal communities

An exceptionally wet winter and spring haven't dampened the hopes of local retailers who are beginning to see signs of a strong summer season ahead.

Battered by whipping wind, incessant rain and bouts of below-average temperatures, many coastal residents have emerged this spring with a renewed passion for warm-weather activities.

Aisles at local garden and home improvement stores are beehives of activity as residents look to shore up their yards and houses ahead of summer. Meanwhile, the first pulses of the summer tourism season are also beginning to impact local retailers.

“The spring is an important season,” Warrenton Fred Meyer food manager Kevin Verrill said. “We’ve been seeing more out-of-towners coming in.”

While summer remains the busiest time of year, spring serves an important initial business barometer for what the warmer months will bring. The weather still may only be hinting at improvement, but sales have begun to heat up as more people trickle into local stores.

While business has been brisk in spite of the bad weather in Clatsop County, retailers is Pacific County, particularly on the Peninsula, have been reeling much of the spring because of cooler weather and closed clamming closures. The cold weather not only deters people from coming to the beach, but draws them to the Cascades for skiing.

“Weather is a large component,” Jack’s Country Store owner Tom Downer said. “In addition to deterring visitors, the cold and precipitation create alternative family recreation in the mountains.”

The spring serves as a recovery period for the Ocean Park grocery and dry-goods store, but this year it arrived late, Downer said. The buying trends are “driven more by weather than by the calendar,” he said.

Garden center aisles are busier than they have been in months. Sales in plants, soil, tools, bulbs and seeds continue to be strong as customers seek to shore up their lawn and gardens ahead of summer. Outdoor grills have also been a hot item, according to Verrill.

“We’re having a good year,” Verrill said. “Just waiting on the weather.”

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