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'It's hard to kayak on ice': How Two Rivers is making sure their winter economy does not go cold

Posted at 6:08 PM, Nov 13, 2023
  • Two Rivers is a hot spot for tourism in the summer but come winter, businesses start to see less revenue. Room tax numbers from 2023 show that January and February combined for $34,000 less than June alone.
  • Cool City Brewing owner, Curt Andrews, says the businesses cannot rely solely on tourism. He says it will be very important to attract locals downtown.
  • A new ice-skating rink is to be installed this month as the city expects more wintertime visitors. Room tax numbers from last winter are the highest the city has seen since at least 2018.

Known for tourism, Two Rivers is a summer hot spot. Now winter draws near, and businesses are looking to keep revenue up as visitors drop.
"It's kind of gloomy. It's kind of sad," said Alex Dewitt, the manager at Crazy Cravings Cafe in downtown Two Rivers.

He sees the economic stress of winter firsthand.

"Lots of businesses struggle during the winter," said Dewitt. "They have to stock up funds because they know they're just not going to make enough."

In 2023, the city generated more than $7,000 and $5,000 in January and February, compare that to this June when room tax generated a whopping $47,000. Alex says those two months are the toughest.

"I feel like I could be doing something else to get more people in here," Dewitt said.

Just a block away at Cool City Brewing, owner Curt Andrews works closely with the city. He says new winter events are helping drive people downtown.

"We're seeing more and more people enjoying the winter festivities," Andrews said. "We are looking as a city about more and more things we can do to drive people here."

A new ice-skating rink across from City Hall is expected to draw a lot more people downtown in the winter. Cool City opened last December and continues to draw people to the area.

More events are coming but Andrews says it is important to rely on more than just tourism to beat winter malaise.

"Giving the locals a reason to come out of their houses and interact with each other during the winter months. Because, as I’ve said before, cabin fever is not a good thing necessarily for anybody, including businesses," Andrews said. "It's hard to go to the beach in the wintertime. It's hard to kayak on ice."

"Sometimes people need a reminder that we're down here," Dewitt says. "We still do exist every month of the year."

Winter tourism is on the rise. The city's room tax numbers show that the three winter months last year generated more revenue than any winter since at least 2018.