With the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., just four months away, Whatcom County's two northernmost towns are expecting to see plenty of people making their way through the border crossing. Merchants are unsure, however, whether that will translate into gold for local coffers.
Blaine and Sumas will be the last stop for many Olympic visitors traveling to Canada from the U.S., but at this point retailers and innkeepers are keeping expectations in check, unsure as to whether visitors will pull off the freeway to do some shopping, stay the night or even use the restroom.
"I think (business owners) are being extremely cautious when it comes to preparing for the Olympics," said Bob Boule, owner of Smuggler's Inn Bed & Breakfast and vice president of the Blaine Chamber of Commerce. "We've had businesses closing in Blaine; there are many that want to make sure they get through the winter first."
Sumas isn't expecting to see many Olympic visitors unless the border waits at the Blaine and Lynden crossings become unreasonably long, said Bob Bromley, Sumas' mayor and owner of Bromley's Market. The uptick in traffic during the Olympics could come from Canadians fleeing the crowds to do some skiing at Mount Baker, he said.
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"We're as ready as we'll ever be, but I don't think we'll be seeing much more business," Bromley said.
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