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Tue, Oct. 22

Signs of life in April
Business starts to pick up locally

<br>Patrick Whitehurst/WGCN<br>
Kaitlyn Scruggs waits on a table at Cruiser’s Cafe in downtown Williams.

<br>Patrick Whitehurst/WGCN<br> Kaitlyn Scruggs waits on a table at Cruiser’s Cafe in downtown Williams.

WILLIAMS - Spending in Williams is beginning to pick up, according to many business owners in the downtown area. With the recent spring break holiday, held at various times throughout the nation, and summer ready to kick into gear, many business owners say they are beginning to see some signs of life in the local economy. According to Jan Shirley with the Williams-Forest Service Visitor Center, the number of visitors coming through the center is on the rise.

"They're very good," Shirley said. "I think we'll have 10,000 by the end of April."

According to her, approximately 338 travelers stop in at the visitor center each day. Since January, roughly 24,000 have come through Williams.

"It's up from March," Shirley said. "In March, we had 7,573."

Business has been good at the local Circle K in the downtown area, according to Customer Service Representative Suzanne Bailes. She said the Circle K attracts a variety of visitors, from tourists to locals. Circle K in Williams is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

"We've done pretty good. We've been pretty busy," Bailes said. "We sell a lot of energy drinks and soda. We're just starting to sell a lot of ice cream."

While some businesses reported a bad March in the downtown area, some businesses said they are beginning to see an increase in customers now that summer is quickly approaching.

Tamera Bloomberg, owner of DeBerge's Saddlery and Western Wear, said March was a slow month for business. DeBerge's is located at 213 West Route 66. The store is open seven days a week. Monday through Saturday hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"April is on par with my expectations," Bloomberg said. "March was horrible. My hopes are that things will go back to normal. Hopefully we'll have a repeat of last year."

Bloomberg said that a number of tourists entering her business this year are Europeans, many from Italy and other countries.

"The Europeans want a lot of American-made goods. Americans want them, too," Bloomberg said.

Jacque Besler, who owns Colors of the West and Coyote Kid with her husband Mike Besler, said business has been down this year as compared to other years. Colors of the West is located in downtown Williams on the corner of Route 66 and Grand Canyon Boulevard. The store open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"It hasn't been very good, but it was busy the week before Easter," Besler said. "Other than that there doesn't seem to be a lot of people walking in the streets, but we're waiting for them."

John Peasley, owner of Cruiser's Route 66 Café, said he has no complaints when it comes to this year's spring break and subsequent weeks.

"It was good actually, numbers are up so far," he said. "The numbers are the same, basically, for the last two years."

He said that, while business was slow in late 2008, he doesn't think news of a bad economic will affect his business in 2009.

"I don't think we'll see any issues. I don't think people can hide in the closet forever," Peasley said.

Cruiser's Route 66 Café, and is located on the corner of Third Street and Route 66, is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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