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Breckenridge businesses thriving, some owners say, even as town warns of 'significant staffing shortages'

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-04 19:42:53-04

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — Hundreds of people came out to Main Street to see the sights and sounds this Fourth of July, even as the town's tourism office warns of "significant staffing shortages."

"We have been putting the message out there to adjust expectations for guests, and that really gives our frontline workers the opportunity to exceed those expectations," Lauren Swanson, director of public relations for the town's tourism office, said Monday.

Despite that messaging, many of the business owners Denver7 spoke with say they're thriving like never before.

"We're actually good, knock on wood," said Schmurny Cain, owner of The Motherloaded Tavern.

For the first time since the pandemic, her restaurant is fully staffed.

"I don't know where they're coming from. They're coming out of the woodwork, that we keep getting applications on a daily basis," Cain said.

But this doesn't erase the reality many of these workers are facing — a lack of access to affordable housing.

"I've got at least three of my staff [who] are living out of their cars, which is great in the summer. It's great camping," Cain said. "But when the snow flies, we're going to have another thing that we're going to have to deal with."

Over at Mountain Goat Clothing Company, owner Pete Meltzer and his wife are the store's only employees. While he hasn't had a problem with staffing, he says most of his friends with businesses in town have.

"There's not enough people to do the jobs that [Breckenridge] needs to support the amount of tourism," he said. "The housing shortages in places like this, compounded with COVID and what people are having to pay now, has just left a struggle."

Whatever shortages may still exist don't seem to be making an impact, according to tourists.

"We have seen lines, but it's moving pretty fast. And we got a table today on the 4th of July really fast for lunch, which is great," Laura, who was visiting from Denver, said.

If the shortages aren't keeping people away, the high gas prices and the cost of travel is, as both Cain and Meltzer say they've had smaller crowds this Fourth of July compared to last year.

"Everything's a little bit more expensive, so we're not [staying] as busy, but we're pretty close," Cain said.