Custer businesses see reduced tourist numbers in wake of COVID-19

CUSTER, S.D. — Custer is one of many Black Hills communities that relies heavily on tourist traffic. Like everywhere else, it’s taken a hit this year, but the community is nothing but resilient.

“We are starting to see more tourists come through.” says Sheila Carter, owner of Calamity Jane Coffee Shop and Grill, “Definitely not like it is for this time of year typically.”

An all too familiar summation of what small businesses have been experiencing during the pandemic.

Sheila Carter, who purchased her coffee shop in January and opened for the very first time last month, is working a seven day work week, alone, just to stay afloat.

“I have employees that I interviewed and unfortunately it has not been busy enough to hire them on so they are just on standby.” continued Carter.

Custer’s Chamber of Commerce wants to shed a bright light on businesses like Sheila’s, using Tourism Week to ask residents to buy local and get gift cards even if they are not quite ready to step out yet.

“We’re using this week to encourage locals to keep supporting our local businesses and people in the region too.” Dolsee Davenport, Executive Director of the Custer Chamber of Commerce, “So buy gift cards that you can use later, order take out, anything like that that you can do now that can support our local businesses that’s what really important to us this week.”

In doing its part to incentivize the community, the Chamber of Commerce has put together a few games with a twist.

“We have our Support Custer Bingo that we have on our website so people can fill out the bingo.” continued Davenport, “We are doing Custer Cash which is that’s a prize and it’s for people who are supporting local businesses and it’s something that can be spent at local businesses only too.”

Some businesses continue to be optimistic for the upcoming season.

With 6 stores throughout South Dakota, A&N Custom Tees opened early. Right in time for new faces to check out their stores.

“We are doing well and things are picking up.” said Rye Guischer, manager A&N Custom Tees “We’re looking for a big season this year.”

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News