Gorge towns hurt by wildfire pin economic hopes on fall tourism

Push to support gorge businesses

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. - A push to support businesses in the Columbia River Gorge that were hurt by a lack of customers during the Eagle Creek fire seemed to go over very well this weekend.

Late Sunday afternoon visitors were still enjoying meals and beer at the Thunder Island Brewery in Cascade Locks.

The timing is perfect.

“Oh it’s great you know. Nice to have that support,” said the brewery’s chef Ron Phillips.

Scott Brown, a barber from Beaver Creek said he came out to see the fire's damage and help out by spending money at the brewery.

“A lot of my customers were doing the same thing and it seemed like the right thing to do,” he said.

The business owners said Friday that they’d lost 150-thousand dollars in revenue over the two weeks they were closed by the wildfire.

At the brewery’s bar, the talk was about the Eagle Creek fire and the support from the community.

“I love that people are rallying to support these businesses,” said Izzy Lefebvre.

He and his wife Kathleen went to Thunder Island to help out.

“It feels good kind of, there's a tender moment you know just being here,” Kathleen said.

They were also thinking about the teen who started the fire.

“Wondering, has he been out yet you know or have the family been out. Really feeling for all the victims involved and also the perpetrator that was part of that,” said Izzy Lefebvre.

In Hood River, more shoppers from the Portland area strolled Oak street and shopped the stores there.

“I know they had a hard time last month when things were closed for two weeks. So it’s just important to support local people, said Julia Lager-Mesulam.

She visited with her friend Karen Schoenfeld who has a home in Hood River and Portland. They spent money Sunday in Hood River, to help local businesses.

“We need to support our local shop owners otherwise they'll go away,” said Schoenfeld.

The call to support Gorge businesses seemed to work.

“Crazy busy and so much fun! It felt like half of Portland came out – specifically to support us,” said Andrea Nagreen, the manager of the Foot Wise store.

Early Sunday evening she restocked shelves after a whirlwind weekend that brought nearly double the sales as the same weekend last year.

Sometimes, when tragedy strikes, people need a hug.

And sometimes a whole community needs one too.

The last weekend of September, Columbia Gorge businesses got the first of what they hope are many.

“It felt like a hug all day long!” Nagreen said.
 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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