Summer isn’t all wet for businesses

With saturated skies continuing to roll over the horizon, many businesses are currently looking at ways to stay afloat.

Atlas PyroVision Productions, the huge Jaffrey-based fireworks company, is one of several businesses that has been able to take this summer’s frequent showers and thunderstorms in stride.

“In the world of fireworks, the worst thing you can have is a drought,” said Matt Shea, the company’s general manager, referring to the fact fireworks can’t be launched when a drought is a class 3 or higher. “Although there’s a thing as too much rain, in the world of fireworks, it has worked in our favor.”

Other businesses aren’t quite as lucky. Bill Hall, a hay farmer in Hollis, said the rain has made it difficult to bale because the storms have extended the hay’s drying time. A large portion of his business goes to horse owners, and horses require completely dry hay for feed. Hall said any mold caused by moisture in the bales could seriously harm or kill a horse.

“You’ve got to have the rain to make the grass grow, but then you’ve got to have the sun and the dry weather to dry it,” Hall said.

Chris Silk, a floor supervisor for the Nashua Eastern Mountain Sports store, said he has noticed a drop-off in business for equipment for camping and outdoor sports. The rain has made rock surfaces too slick to scale and trails too moist to traverse, according to Silk, and the storms have raised rivers and increased current speed to unsafe levels.

“It’s supposed to be a lot warmer this time of year, and a lot sunnier,” Silk said. “It does put a damper on things. People don’t want to go out in the rain. It’s definitely slowing the summer events down a lot.”

“It’s just because everything’s wet. That’s been the biggest hindrance,” he said.

Amy Bassett, spokesperson for the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, said there hasn’t been a big change in visitation to state parks and campsites so far this summer, even with the rain. She said the rain hasn’t stopped campers from renting usual sites, and the scattered storms have allowed the public to go to parks and beaches during sunny moments of each day.

“Overall, I think people go when they can, and I still see our numbers being pretty consistent,” Bassett said. “People aren’t canceling because the weather is so unpredictable. We don’t think people are changing their plans – they might rearrange them in some part.”

‘An interesting year’

Some businesses are even seeing an increase in business due to the rain. Dave Clermont, a manager at Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Nashua, estimated the theater gets between double and triple its typical attendance on days with inclement weather.

“For example, looking at yesterday and today — basically the same movies throughout the day — we did 500 people in the morning yesterday and we did only 250 today,” said Clermont. “It’s normal. If it’s raining out, people like to go to the movies.”

Even outdoors fireworks shows haven’t always been hurt by the weather, Shea said. He recalled a July 3 show in Danvers, Mass., where torrential rains and 45 mph winds pounded the crowd shortly before display was scheduled to start. He said the crowd came prepared, as a “sea” of umbrellas sheltered viewers until the rains subsided.

“It’s kind of an interesting year,” Shea said. “There’s definitely a wave of people who are staying at home (rather than going on vacation). There are more people going to these events.”

Shea said he doesn’t hope for rain, however, despite the business’ success this summer.

“It’s all about having people there to watch the fireworks display,” Shea said. “Obviously if it’s really wet day, people are not going out.”