FOR many small business owners in North Vancouver, a cold, wet June wasn't just an inconvenience. It was a major blow to the bottom line.
"Last year was probably the worst year as far as sales in the 12 years I've been in this business, because we're weather dependent," said Ambleside Concession owner Raymond Poirier, referring to the wet summer of 2011. "This year it looks like it's turning out to be the same, and actually our sales are even further down."
For the second year in a row, summer has started cold and wet - very wet. According to meteorologists, this June was both colder and much wetter than is usual for this time of year.
The forecast is finally calling for clear weather, but Poirier isn't taking any chances. He's invested $7,000 in a large, marque-style tent so his customers can sit in comfort, no matter the weather. Poirier put the tent up on July 1 and had an immediate uptick in business, despite the on-again, off-again drizzle that plagued Canada Day.
"The people seem to like it," said Poirier. "In fact we had a couple who said it was quite romantic to sit and listen to the rain and have something to eat."
The tent is an experiment, but if all goes well, Poirier is considering paying an additional $5000 to add a heating system. This would allow him to extend his business further into the fall. He may also look at putting up similar shelters at the concessions he runs in Lynn Canyon Park and Dundarave Pier.
At the Marinaside Grill on Wednesday, the first sunny day in what seemed like weeks, manager Jeff Scott had just worked a busy lunch rush. But he wasn't complaining.
When the sun is out, people think about enjoying a drink and a meal on the restaurant's large deck, which offers a view of the Lynnwood Marina. In the rain? Not so much.
"One bad month can really affect us," said Scott.
Sales in June were down 10 per cent, but relatively good weather in May had sales up 30 per cent, said Scott. A delayed summer also means the restaurant can't hire on as many staff, and the waitresses who are working make less in tips.
Hit by last summer's bad weather, the restaurant worked hard to bring in customers through the fall and winter.
The business built a database of loyal regulars and sent out emails offering special deals.
Now that the sun is out, "I very much hope it's here to stay, and that we have a long summer," said Scott.
Other businesses find their customers are simply adapting.
Cynthia Sully, a manager at Different Bikes in West Vancouver, said that by the end of June, cyclists seemed to have decided to stop waiting and start biking.
"We sold more (rain gear) this June than we ever have before," said Sully.
A little rain doesn't stop hardy mountain bikers, said Rick Loader, owner of Lynn Valley Bikes. But when the sun does come out?
"It's gonna be awesome," said Loader, who said he currently had 10 customers in his shop, all excited that the sun is finally here.