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January 26, 2010

Recession Snows Tahoe Under

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Our get-out-of-Seattle-in-winter effort is into its final phases. That is, we're in the Lake Tahoe area for Nancy's annual ski week. I never skiied much and quit before I bailed out of Albany, NY to return to the Seattle area. So she skis and I try to keep busy doing other things.

Today those "other things" involved driving down to South Lake Tahoe/Stateline to buy a few needed groceries. While there, I checked out the commercial scene.

Two or three years ago, the place was doing well, if appearance was any guide. Now, that same casual yardstick suggests that times are hard. In the "village" by the big Marriott on the main drag, something like half the retail spaces are vacant. Nearby, things don't look so bad, but vacancies seem greater than last year which was worse than pre-recession.

I then drove over to Harrah's and did a walk-through of the four big casinos on the Nevada side of the state line. Two of them -- the Montbleu and the Horizon -- didn't look healthy. Some restaurants were closed "for the season" or otherwise simply shuttered. The slot machine zone of one casino struck me as sparsely populated -- by machines as well as gamblers.

Harrah's and its sister (brother?) casino Harvey's seemed in better shape. Perhaps that might be due to the comparatively deep pockets of the Harrah organization. Even so, a small Harrah casino for non-smokers called Bill's was closed (it never struck me as very busy in past years).

Skiing is an expensive hobby, so it stands to reason that it would be affected by the current recession which is lengthy as well as deep. Had the recession been shorter, perhaps more tourist-related businesses would have survived.

For what it's worth, what I've been seeing here is the strongest evidence of the recession that I've experienced thus far. On the other hand, I haven't visited Detroit and similar places since before the 2008 crash.



posted by Donald at January 26, 2010


A few months ago my wife and I made a Saturday-night visit to the country's largest casino, the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. We have no basis for comparison as it was our first visit. Nonetheless, the enormous casino areas were at least moderately crowded, the (mostly expensive) restaurants were packed, and the (definitely expensive) shopping area had no empty spaces.

Posted by: Peter on January 27, 2010 12:35 AM

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