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Klamath Market feeling winter blues

By Kelley Atherton

Triplicate staff writer

KLAMATH — A local food market in Klamath is experiencing the beginnings of a cold, harsh winter.

The owners of Klamath Market at 166 Klamath Blvd. are considering picking up part-time jobs, while still running their store, said Evan Hawkins, manager and son of owner Peter Hawkins.

The second jobs are needed to keep their family afloat through the off-peak winter tourism season. The store, however, has no plans to close down at this point. Although, Hawkins said it is always an option.

"Right now, because of insufficient business we're all looking for part-time jobs," Evan said about himself, his father and wife, Michelle.

He said his father was looking for a position as a substitute teacher in the school district and didn't know what he was going to do for additional work yet.

Since its opening in June 2002, Hawkins said the market has had steady business, just not during the winter months. Tourists passing through or staying for the summer keep a decent influx of customers, he said.

"After the summer tourism season, around mid- to late-October, it dies down and our business is cut in half," Hawkins said.

Klamath Market is slightly bigger than a convenience store, but smaller than a chain grocery store like Safeway or Ray's Food and Drug.

Their modest store, he said, has a small produce section, meat and deli selection that they buy wholesale and cut themselves, and standard grocery items. The family employees two part-time employees, whose hours they've had to cut back.

Business depends on the local customers and whether they opt to shop at the market or not.

"Most of it depends on the locals," Hawkins said. "If they want to support a local business they can help us get through to the cream-top of the tourist season.

He explained that their prices were in the same ballpark as Safeway or Ray's; some items they offer are more expensive, but others are less. Yet many locals travel to Crescent City to shop for the "convenience of selection," he said.

An option for increasing sales could be to open on Sundays, but Hawkins said that the sales wouldn't surmount the cost of operating the store or staying home with loved ones.

"We used to be open on Sunday, but the business we got didn't offset our need for family time," Hawkins said.

The option to close up shop and move it to another more viable town, also isn't feasible. The Hawkins have lived in Klamath for six years and Evan's wife Michelle is native Yurok.

President of the Del Norte Chamber of Commerce Chris Howard said that Klamath has more potential for winter tourism. The winter months are slow, he acknowledged. However, if Klamath geared its sights towards tourists who love outdoor activities and natural beauty, the area could be more lively.

"There's an opportunity to capitalize on the outdoorsy type," Howard said. "From bird watching to fishing, rafting, kayaking, etc, there's potential to bring in more revenue."

Although, Klamath is in Del Norte County, Klamath Market is a member of the Klamath Chamber of Commerce, which could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.

Reach Kelley Atherton at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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