ASHLAND, OR --It's hard for businesses to forget about last year's smoke season. The smoke lasted for weeks. Making some tourists cancel their plans to visit Southern Oregon.
Nicholars Bair and his fiance opened up a lavender shop last July. Just weeks before the smoke arrived. Bair says, "the smoke, it was obviously very challenging for us, the numbers were quite down for the tourists coming through." Bair and his fiance have found their success from the support of the local community, instead of tourists. He says, "that's part of the reason why our shop is still here today. What we found was that the local community really embraced us. The whole goal is to be embraced by the local community in Ashland and Medford."
Kelly Jean Hammond is one of the owners of Paddington Station. She says, "the smoke season last year was really difficult." Their buisnesses is working with the change of nature instead of fighting it. She says, "we didn't let the smoke stop us and we didn't let the smoke keep us for doing our business."
While doing their normal business, the store also created a sort of oasis from the smoke. With smoke masks, cold water and snacks. She says, "we could sit here and say maybe the smoke is going to come in August. so we are going to plan ourselves down 20 percent but who knows, who knows what's going to happen. It's really, it's why it's called nature. we can't really control it."
Hammonds plan for the smoke is to keep adding new products in the store even during smoke season. Plus she says Ashland has so many different activities, she is not surprised people said in the SOU survey they want to come back. She says, "I think that while the smoke was a huge deterrent our little town shined through and let tourists know how awesome we are.
Bair says, "man I really hope that they do come back." His plan is get the local community involved in his store. By hosting local artists and musicians at his store the first Friday of every month. Something the shop has already started.