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SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s economy is entering an annual time akin to an awkward adolescence. Tourists are quickly drying up and Black Friday Christmas shoppers are still weeks away, leaving the owners of specialty shops and tourist-based businesses with some spare time.
Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce CEO Dixie Johnson said there’s a name for this time of the year.
“They actually have something they call the ‘shoulder season,'” Johnson said. “If you think of tourism, generally, there’s a lull between winter and summer seasons.”
Johnson said she frequently hears questions from business owners regarding what to do to tie over their time until business picks up again.
“A lot of people get caught up working in their business,” she said. “Now is the time to work on the business.”
Johnson said the shoulder season is prime time for networking and marketing to create a customer base that sticks around for the long haul.
“Oftentimes, when businesses suffer, people will start cutting back, and they cut back on marketing,” Johnson said. “That’s actually the time they need to do more marketing of their business to create a larger customer base.”
Manager at Fly Shop of the Bighorns, Beau Bolton said his marketing strategy shifts when the weather gets chilly.
“We work on the store and get things straightened up, and we focus on our online sales,” Bolton said. “We don’t have much time for that during the busy season.”
Bolton said most of his fishing tour guides are either retired or have jobs as teachers they return to in the fall. He said in-store traffic generally picks up again for the Christmas season.
Part Owner of Back Country Bicycles Darrin Stine said he’s presently busy doing repairs and annual maintenance. He said many avid bikers bring their cycles to his shop during this time for an annual tune-up, but foot traffic has definitely slowed.
“It’s a lull time for us,” he said.
Along with taking care of gearing up for his second season. In the summer, BCB is all about cycling, but in the wintertime, the shop sells and rents cross-country skis and snowshoes.
That means a change-over of the shop’s inventory.
Out at Eaton’s Ranch, the “dudes” have cleared out, and the staff is getting ready to host hunters at the end of the month. After hosting myriad conferences, weddings and other events, guest ranch workers use the time off to take care of odds and ends.
“Typically, we have time off in November and the beginning of December,” office assistant Rachel Horne said. “In January, we open up as a bed and breakfast.”
Horne also said the ranch uses the off season to give back to the community by hosting school group tours. The ranch also recently participated in an event to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
There are various ways to survive the shoulder season: rework a business plan, focus on online sales, change out inventory or take a well-deserved break.