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As tourists flock to Pendleton, some businesses prepare for a slow week

Florist, tire shop, theater among businesses skipped over by rodeo week visitors
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on September 10, 2018 12:01AM

Last changed on September 10, 2018 10:04PM

Cheryl Stewart, owner of Calico Country Designs, works on a flower arrangement Monday at her shop in Pendleton.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Cheryl Stewart, owner of Calico Country Designs, works on a flower arrangement Monday at her shop in Pendleton.

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Staff photo by E.J. HarrisCalico Country Designs sees some falloff in business during the Pendleton Round-Up.

Staff photo by E.J. HarrisCalico Country Designs sees some falloff in business during the Pendleton Round-Up.

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Round-Up brings piles of tourism dollars to much of Pendleton’s business sector. But not to all of it.

Wanna catch a movie without the crowds? Get flowers the same day for that special someone? Need new tires?

Then take advantage of Round-Up week.

Cheryl Stewart owns and manages Calico Country Designs on Main Street. She said the blocks of vendors and entertainment downtown cut the stems on the flower shop’s business. Some Pendleton establishments do great this week, Stewart said, but others, including hers, fight to break even.

“We might have some people walk in, but most of them don’t want to carry stuff home,” she said. “We stay open to serve our locals.”

That includes flowers for funeral services, which Calico was handling Monday. Stewart said Calico delivers bouquets throughout the week with the exception of Friday, when the lengthy Westward Ho! Parade rides and rolls through much of the downtown corridor. The parade is as much a staple of Round-Up as the Happy Canyon Night Show or the rodeo arena’s grass field, but snarls traffic for a couple of hours.

Still, Stewart stressed, this week is a great time to buy flowers.

The Les Schwab Tire Center was popping as usual for a Monday, but that won’t last much longer. Manager Loren Finifrock said as the week moves along and Round-Up picks up, “business slows way down.”

Finifrock said the tire center gets out-of-towners who have problems, but many locals are too busy volunteering or taking part in activities this week to otherwise come in.

Yet like Calico, Finifrock said Les Schwab is open as usual.

Local beer, soda and food vendors see hikes in business this week, along with the hotels, which start taking bookings for next year’s Round-Up in the first quarter of the new year.

Most keep lists of Round-Up guests and contact them to arrange their stays. Several hotels in Pendleton reported occupancy nearing 100 percent, particularly for Friday and Saturday nights.

Rooms are running from about $245 a night to $375, not including taxes. The prices are often more than double usual rates, and some hotels require a minimum stay of three nights.

Several small business cut back on operations during Round-Up week. Western Auto holds off on appliance deliveries. Zimmerman’s True Value on Main closes Friday and Saturday, a practice it established decades ago. Some dental and medical offices shut down all week.

The cinema at Wildhorse Resort & Casino about six miles east of Pendleton stays open but has a dip in attendance. Gambling patrons take to the movie theater’s concessions stand, but fewer take in the movies. Still, the cinema’s Wednesday noon showing of older and newer classic films is tapping into Round-Up’s western flair with 1957’s “3:10 to Yuma.”

You may not have to come early to get a good seat.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.



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