published Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Rain, rain go away: Businesses seek dry, sunny days to profit from summer activities

Earl Howze of Lott's Lawn and Cleaning Service mows the lawn of an East Brainerd home on Wednesday. Lott said his crew works as long as there's no thunder and lightning and that they've been working steadily through the rain. He says the weather has brought on more business since usually the summer heat dries out grass and there's less to cut. "It's been a blessing, it really has," said Lott of the rain.
Earl Howze of Lott's Lawn and Cleaning Service mows the lawn of an East Brainerd home on Wednesday. Lott said his crew works as long as there's no thunder and lightning and that they've been working steadily through the rain. He says the weather has brought on more business since usually the summer heat dries out grass and there's less to cut. "It's been a blessing, it really has," said Lott of the rain.
Photo by Maura Friedman.
  • photo
    Andrew Byrne, far left, speaks with costumers, from left, Bailey Rapp, Gina Rapp, Caroline Johnson and Julie Johnson about stand-up paddle boarding at L2 Boards on Wednesday. L2 Boards' business has been hurt by the constant rain and the fast moving water in the Tennessee River.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

Forecast Box

Today: High 86, Low 70, few storms

Friday: High 87, Low 65, mostly sunny

Saturday: High 88, Low 68, partly cloudy

Sunday: High 89, Low 70, possibility for evening storms

The good news is the rain should stop for a while after today.

Until then most of the Chattanooga area likely will see another inch or two of rain through today, according to WRCB-TV forecasts.

The bad news is the damage largely is already done.

Cherita Tallent, manager of Harbor Lights Marina in Soddy-Daisy, said Wednesday that her business is suffering because of this summer's abundace of rain.

"It's affected us a lot," she said. "This past weekend was supposed to be our busiest weekend of the year."

Instead, the marina brought in just over 1 percent of expected revenue so far in July. Tallent said Harbor Lights expected to make $30,000 around the July Fourth holiday.

"Instead," she said, "we just put $482 in [the bank], if that tells you anything."

Worse yet, Tallent said the marina depends on the Fourth weekend to make around 20 percent of its yearly profits. She said because people couldn't get outdoors, they didn't rent boats or fuel up or eat at the marina's restaurant.

"We lost a lot of money," she said.

Tallent isn't alone.

Terry Kelley, manager of Island Cove Marina and Resort off Highway 58 in Harrison, said business has been tough since May.

"I'd say our business is off at least 15 percent because of the weather," he said Wednesday.

He said by Memorial Day, the marina has normally already seen its first "breakout weekend" as people get their boats out and head to the lake. But by this Memorial Day, the Chattanooga area received more than 7 inches of rain in May alone and nearly 35 inches since the year began, according to the National Weather Service.

"We had [flood] water up in the parking lot until yesterday," Kelley said . "We just can't seem to hardly get started this year."

Meanwhile, Andrew Byrne at L2 Boards downtown said because of last week's rain and high, swift water, the paddle board renters can't send folks out on the Tennessee River.

"It's the fastest I've ever seen it," Byrne said of the river, which TVA is servicing by spilling more than 1 million cubic feet of water per hour through Chickamauga Dam to avoid flooding. "Before we got all that rain, we were doing great. We were super busy every day."

But now, he said the rental side of L2, which makes up a significant portion of the company's revenue, is at a stand-still.

"We can't even get to the dock where we launch from. It's all flooded," he said.

Local golf courses also took a hit when outdoor-unfriendly weather took over this summer. Donnie Wise, manager of Concord Golf Club, said the Chickamauga Creek, which runs parallel to Concord, flooded the golf course earlier in the week and the course shut down Monday and Tuesday.

But he said even the mention of rain sometimes keeps golfers at home.

"The weatherman hurts you a lot," he said .

Whether local outdoor businesses can soar back financially before summer ends is still in question.

Tallent said once August and school rolls back around in nearly a month, the marina boom season is up.

"In my opinion, you never make [the money] back," Kelley said Wednesday. "If it's gone, it's gone."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6731.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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