The City of Custer, SD is booming during the summer months. But once the tourists leave and the snow starts the fall, business starts to turn bleak.
Robin Bagley with Custer’s Chamber of Commerce says winter is a sharp contrast to the city’s thriving summer months. Bagley says Custer usually sees around tens of thousands of visitors during the summer months through October. Once they clear out, Custer is stripped down to its base population of 2,000 people, many of which aren’t shopping in the tourist spots –which close down or shorten their operating hours in the winter.
“There are a few main restaurants that are year round which is really nice because you don’t just want to go out to dinner in the summer,” said Judy Tullberg.
But this winter, some businesses had to reduce their operating hours in order to make ends meet. Mary Shanklin, a local shop owner says it’s a struggle.
“The floor coverings in the winter months helps us get by and then yes you have to try to prepare for it if you can, it just seems some years are harder to prepare for,” Shanklin said.
And while their winter finances may look frozen, some shop owners say they know their hardships will soon melt away.
“We don’t necessarily look at it as a decline, this is just, this is just what our city looks like with the people that live here and its perfectly normal,” Bagley said.
Bagley says while there may be a less places open to shop and dine, Custer State Park, Wind Cave and Jewel Cave are open during the winter.