Wildfire smoke returned to the Rogue Valley on Friday, and it was thick enough to warrant postponing local football games. Cancellations have a cascading effect on Medford activities, with less event related traffic throughout the evening. While the football stadiums sat empty, I visited local businesses to investigate the impact on their sales.
Paul Cloutier, salesman at All RV Needs in Phoenix, said that smoke issues impact the bottom line in the RV industry as well. His customer base is frequently complaining about the air quality, and using it as an excuse for not going forward on an RV purchase.
"People don't want to come out and look at trailers because they can't breathe," he said. "We don't need any more obstacles to selling, especially now that we are going into our slow time."
Chuck Reeder owns a food cart called Victory Dogs, where he serves hot dogs and other street fare in downtown Medford six days a week. Summer smoke caused both lower sales and a poor working environment. Reeder and his team struggled with poor air quality while delivering food to a diminished customer base on the long summer days.
Reeder generates his own smoke at Victory Dogs, so when wildfire pollution rolls in, his environment is doubly hazardous. "You've got your normal pollutants in the air, then all of a sudden this stuff comes in, too. You're like, come on! Who needs to breathe. It's so unimportant."
Rain showers arrived over the weekend to restore some clarity to the air in the Rogue Valley. Still, local businesses are struggling with a problem that has no clear answers.