Mike McKibbin

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November 7, 2012
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Different businesses, different outlooks

Everyone knows times are tough; that's not breaking news to anyone.

But I was struck by the opposite stances of that fact in the stories of two longtime Rifle businesses.

As you read in this week's Citizen Telegram, one of them, the Rusty Cannon Motel, plans to close the doors on its 88 rooms toward the end of the month. The other, Timberline Sporting Goods, left its longtime downtown location for a much larger site about a block away.

People weren't staying enough nights at the Rusty Cannon, I guess, to keep it going. But the brothers Rider, Kevin and Bryan, at Timberline, are planning to expand their goods and even offer an indoor archery range for target practice and competitive shooting.

You can't get any more different in outlooks than that on the local economy, perhaps even the national economy.

While it's sad to think we'll soon bid goodbye to the more than three decades of lodging hospitality the Rusty Cannon offered travelers, visitors, hunters and energy workers, it's good to know a downtown Rifle business feels confident it's going to be around a while longer to invest in its livelihood.

The Rusty Cannon's closure is also troubling, since it will hurt the city's tourism promotion efforts. With 88 fewer rooms to charge the 2.5 percent lodging tax, that revenue is lost as well. So it could turn into a downward spiral.

There used to be eight lodging establishments in Rifle before the natural gas slowdown in 2009. Now there's five. As usually happens in the boom and bust cycle, people build for what they think the future holds, but no one has been or ever will be totally accurate in predicting anything. And eventually what goes around, comes around.

On a more positive note, the Rider brothers are hoping their business expansion plans will bear fruit by offering different goods and services. As Kirk Rider told me, an archery range is something he has felt Rifle needed and would support for a long time.

Makes some sense when you think about all the bow hunters - a growing portion of the hunting population - and the popularity of archery among the younger generation, thanks to the book and movie "The Hunger Games."

Rifle has had a downtown sporting goods store for about as long as the Rusty Cannon has welcomed guests. While it looks like we're losing one, the other seems intent to stick around a while longer.

I'd hazard a guess those two opposite viewpoints pretty much sum up this country's mood and outlook, wouldn't you? Some people are glass half empty, others half full. That's likely been the case since people voiced differing opinions.

Only time will tell which Rifle business sipped sweetly of what was before them, and which one wished for a second round.

Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 7, 2012 06:35PM Published Nov 7, 2012 06:34PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.