Jim Thorpe leading way to recovery
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS At Rainbows End in Jim Thorpe, Jayne Krusman of Lopatcong, N.J. and Vicki Dunlap of Stewartsville, N.J. enjoy ice cream, "The staple of my diet," they agreed. Several factors, including the hot weather, are helping to create record sales for Jim Thorpe businesses in the recreation, food and quality apparel market sectors while the souvenir market is being visited by mostly shoppers, not buyers.
Jim Thorpe's tourist-based economy saw a significant upswing in July as a series of factors came together to produce a perfect storm of positive coincidences.
One of the beneficiaries is Mike Guy of the Rainbow's End Ice Cream shop in Jim Thorpe.
"We had our second biggest July in our 12 years," Guy said. "Sales were up about 10 percent over last year."
Paul Fogal of Pocono Whitewater also had a good July with whitewater release Saturdays filled, Sundays at 75 percent of capacity, and a float trip on nearly every weekday. He guesses that sales are up 5 to 10 percent over last year?
John Drury of the Inn at Jim Thorpe said about their new restaurant, the Broadway Grill & Pub, "It's been busy like all get out. We served 700 meals on a past Saturday." He noted that at times, there were lines extending into the street.
So, if so much of the media is fretting about a recession, how is it that the Jim Thorpe tourist industry is doing quite nicely?
For one thing, summer whitewater dam releases are bringing paddlers to Jim Thorpe. For another, the many bike trails, including the new section of the D&L Trail from Jim Thorpe to the Nesquehoning Junction Bridge, are bringing pedalers.
Add to that the hot July weather a mighty incentive for those paddlers and pedalers to take a vacation from the metro areas to enjoy the cooler Poconos and while they are here have a cool ice cream cone at Rainbow's End.
Another factor, Drury noted, is the publicity from a recent Channel 10 Philadelphia news story about the town of Jim Thorpe. He credits the article with an upsurge in traffic to the Inn.
Marianne Monteleone operates a clothing design business with a small B&B above the shop. Her B&B is up 30 percent over last year, and her clothing sales are booming up 100 percent over last year. Monteleone credits the upsurge to a new line of classic clothing at a lower price.
At the Big Creek Vineyard winery, Lynn Farmer said that sales have been flat, but, he noted, "Last year was a record year. We are having trouble matching those numbers."
Stephanie Verme of the Moya Restaurant reported business is up 30 percent. She attributed the growth to returning local customers who make up 60 percent of her business.
Bart Springer, president of the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce and owner of the General Albright Mansion Restaurant has another explanation. He feels that the lawsuit to reclaim Jim Thorpe's body has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars of free publicity. As he talks to guests at his restaurant, he has met people that came to Jim Thorpe as a result of that publicity.
"We've had people in the restaurant who specifically came to Jim Thorpe because it is currently in the news," Springer noted. "They haven't been here in years or ever."
Other factors that have been cited for bring business to Jim Thorpe is the uptick in day-trip tourism, an extended tourist train schedule, and a 340-person Greenway Bicycle Sojourn.
While the recreation and the food sectors of the Jim Thorpe economy are rebounding, not so for much of the souvenir and art sectors. Shopkeepers that sell, nicknacks, art, toys, photographs, etc., are reporting a slow season. At shops like Pufferbellys and The Gandy Dancer, the owners report that visitors look around the shop and leave or, if they do buy, purchase an inexpensive item.
Jim Thorpe is drawing people for recreation, and while those who come may eat, they remain reluctant to invest in something to take home.