Pullman summer economy stronger than past years

Business slowing less than normal, earlier months usually lowest



Pullman Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marie Dymkoski explains how the departure of students during the summer months causes a dip in the Pullman economy.

CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

Pullman’s economy slows as students leave campus to head home during the summer, ultimately affecting local businesses.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Pullman’s current population at about 33,000 residents. However, many of these are students at WSU who leave during the summer months, removing a large number of consumers from the population.

Marie Dymkoski, the executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, said Pullman businesses do see a decrease during summer, but it’s not as significant as in past years.

“Grocery stores are going to be a little bit quieter,” she said. “Restaurants are going to be a little bit quieter, but I think the dollar signs are still appropriate.”

February is actually the slowest month for business, according to sales tax revenue for the City of Pullman provided by Dymkoski. Over the last five years, sales tax revenue in February has averaged about $297,000, which is about $70,000 lower than the monthly average.

Dymkoski said this could be due to a national trend of reduced spending after the holidays.

June and July, however, differed from the Pullman average by about $7,000 and $20,000 respectively. August and September are the months with the highest average sales tax revenue, coming close to $60,000 above the overall average.

Dymkoski said the way businesses usually offset the reduction in revenue during summer months is by reducing hours, staffing less employees or closing altogether. But this largely depends on the type of business.

Willow Falcon, the owner of Glassphemy, said although she has seen up to a 40 percent decrease in average sales during the summer, she does not close her store or reduce hours.

“If you shut your doors and cut inventory then you will definitely see a decrease in business,” Falcon said. “Sometimes I even think I should expand hours. I’ve never done less business because I was open more hours.”

Bruce Calkins, owner of used bookstore Brused Books, said his shop sees more business in the summer. He said business stays mostly consistent throughout the whole year, but if there had to be a slow month it would be around February or March.

During the summer months, however, Calkins said he gets more tourism business from “book nuts” on road trips.

Dymkoski said the Chamber and the City of Pullman sponsor events during the summer to spur tourism. These include the Palouse Summer Series, a series of baseball tournaments held at baseball fields all over Pullman and the surrounding areas, a public concert series called Music on Mai, as well as marketing portraying the Palouse as a photography destination.