Despite pandemic, tourism in river communities helped some businesses’ bottom line

WWNY Despite pandemic, tourism in river communities helped some businesses’ bottom line

CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and despite an unusual summer season, businesses we spoke with Monday along the St. Lawrence River say they had a great run.

Heavy construction, canceled events and a global pandemic didn’t stop some Clayton businesses from making money this season.

Employees at Rak’s Department Store were surprised.

“We did think it was going to be a slower year. We were definitely blown away. I’m finding that a lot of people are in-state residents who are trying to travel and get out of their area, but find in-state areas they can visit, instead of going out-of-state and dealing with the quarantine,” said Chanielle Kinneer, sales manager, Rak’s Department Store.

This weekend was no different. People we spoke with Monday say tourists from across the state spent their long weekend shopping and relaxing along the St. Lawrence River.

“We’ve had a great weekend. It’s been very busy here in town. We’ve had a lot of visitors from parts of New York state that have never been here before. People are discovering New York state because they can’t go outside of the state,” said

Betty Mahoney, sales clerk, The Eagle Shoppe.

In Alexandria Bay, John Bondellio owns the Half Price store, the Ship Gift Shop, and the Gift Zone. He says this weekend has been excellent.

“It’s one of the best Labor Days we’ve had since we’ve been in business. I just think a lot of people wanted to get out from the cities - Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse - a lot of people from out of town come,” he said.

And with a summer more challenging than usual, businesses owners and employees we spoke with say they’re ready to kick their feet up after a long, successful run.

“With all our regulations, those get a little exhausting. It’s been a good season and we’re ready to close and start prepping for next year’s season,” said Kinneer.

There are a few more weeks to shop before businesses in Clayton and Alexandria Bay close their doors to prepare for another season.

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