So far, so good.
A little more than a week into July, area businesses are seeing plenty of tourists.
“From the people I’ve talked to, summer so far has been good. They’re seeing lots of traffic and lots of people,” said Terri Schulz, president of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
Whenever Schulz is out and about, she makes it a point to check in with the business community.
“I always ask how things are going,” she said. “If you drive through the parking lots, you see a lot of out-of-town and out-of-state license plates.”
Of course, the weather has an impact on how many people are visiting the area and what they are doing.
And, this summer’s stretch of hot weather means tourists are definitely not getting rained out during their time here.
Schulz said the weather has a lot to do with whether retailers are busy or not.
“If it’s warm out, they will be out on the lakes. The last couple of weeks have been hot. People are staying on or as close to the water as possible,” Schulz said.
On rainy days, tourists go shopping.
But, by the end of last week, some seemed to have had enough of the high temperatures.
On Friday afternoon, many people were shopping in downtown Waupaca.
Mike Boldt owns 44 Degrees North on North Main Street and said it was a quiet start to the summer season.
“But now, it’s picking up,” he said.
That began on Monday, July 2.
Boldt, in business for six years, always asks those who visit his store if they are vacationing in the area. Often, they are.
Across the street, Anita Olson owns Embellishments.
“We saw a little uptake after Memorial Day,” she said. “But now, I can tell there are people here. People were here the week before the Fourth and the week of the Fourth of July. I expect to keep seeing vacationers.”
Schulz said in the Waupaca area, tourism flips every week.
Some people visit for a weekend, and others stay for a week.
She believes that July 4 falling on a Wednesday this year did affect the number of people here for that holiday.
“Normally, we have everyone here on the Fourth,” she said. “I think some used one of the two adjoining weekends. The crowds for the parade were not as deep. Part of it might have been the heat.”
Later that day, the parking lots of restaurants on the Chain O’ Lakes were full.
“From the times I’ve been out personally, it’s been busy,” Schulz said of the area restaurants.
Last Thursday, July 5, people were shopping in King.
Some stores were busier than others.
Darlene Reed and her husband Todd have owned Furniture by Todd for nine years.
“Custom orders are fine. They are steady from people coming every year,” she said. “Traffic for the little stuff is almost done to zero. I can’t put my finger on it.”
Reed wonders if the push in many communities to shop local is a factor, affecting the number of people from outside of Waupaca who usually drive here to shop.
July 4 hitting the middle of the week this year and the extreme heat both might have affected the number of people shopping, she said.
Reed is optimistic about the rest of summer.
“This is just the start. It always starts after the Fourth of July,” she said.
Schulz said July and August are always the busiest tourism months.
For Lisa McCann, who owns Katie McCann’s in King, this past June was busier than it was in 2011.
“It might have been people traveling earlier because it was warmer earlier,” said McCann, who has had the store for about 10 years.
July 4 was also busy for her.
“Typically, on July 4, I close by 3 p.m.,” she said. “This year, I was here until 5:15 p.m. It was busy all day.”
The custom-designed Chain O’ Lakes T-shirts and sweatshirts that she carries are popular.
“I’ve been really happy. There seems to be more people around,” McCann said. “I think it’s going to be a good year.”
Schulz hopes so, too.
“I’m hoping that the summer finishes out wonderfully,” she said.
And, next year, July 4 falls on a Thursday, so start planning that long weekend now.