Dreaming of spring

By Leslie Silverman

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The Hill City Prevailer News will take a look at how businesses fared this winter and what is ahead for the spring. This week’s focuses on Keystone. The next week will focus on the weather and some events in Keystone and Hill City.

While businesses in Keystone are awaiting the warm weather and the start of spring, it’s been a mixed bag for February.

“Weekends are good,” said Lisa Whitehead, one of the salespeople at Mount Rushmore Taffy Shop. “The wrestling tournament last weekend was very good. If the weather’s decent we’ll do OK.”

However she doesn’t expect a real uptick until May.

Kathy Uhrig of The Indians Gift Shop also noticed a decent February.

“January was great for January and February has been OK,” she said. “It’s been on par to our average February. So February is kind of running on track to where it usually does.”

The Indians is the only gift shop to have remained open all winter.

“It could have been better if the weather was better,” she said. “When they put snow in the forecast a lot of people don’t want to drive on mountain roads in the snow. When there’s snow in the forecast it’s usually a three- or four-day swing for us to get busy again.”

This June, the Indians is celebrating 50 years as a family owned business.  Uhrig is excited for spring

“Once the people start coming again that’s what I really enjoy,” she said, “I really enjoy visiting with them. We get people from all over the world and every day is different. It starts picking up about the first of April and it’s just a continual stream increasing. Obviously Memorial Day is the big kick off and then we’re just super busy.”

Outside the shop, Viola Stevens was visiting from Hope, Ontario, Canada. While she said that it would have been fun to walk through more stores she loved the fact that Keystone is quiet this time of year.

Stevens, visiting primarily due to the Keystone Project, took a side trip to Crazy Horse, which she described as “awesome.”

“You’ll never see something like this in my town,” she said.

Across the street at Boss’ Pizza and Chicken, Victoria Soria sat with her friends enjoying lunch. Soria, visiting from Venezuela, was only in Keystone for the day. She and her friends, from Orlando, Fla., and Miami, Fla., flew to Minneapolis, Minn.

The group of six drove to Keystone solely to visit Mount Rushmore.

“It was very interesting, the rock, and very beautiful,” she said.

However, even with customers on this day, Jason Johnson said that February “wasn’t that great.”

As for Spring, Johnson said he doesn’t know what to expect.

“The cold weather forecast and snow means the restaurant “probably won’t see anybody.”

Barb Digmann, owner of the Keystone Country Store since 2006, says winter this year “seems to have gotten worse.” She described February as “very cold.”

Business wise it was “very slow,” she said. Even with the slower than usual winter, Dingmann is optimistic.

“I’m excited for a little bit warmer weather,” she said. “People like to move around when the sun is shining.” That means more customers for the small store.

Like other businesses in Keystone, the store expects more tourists over spring break.

“We expect to get busy for the spring breaks that come up,” she said, “And then the end of June we’re just hauling on through the summer.”

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