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Summer business booms in DL

The population of Detroit Lakes balloons in the summertime, and this past weekend was no exception.

A big warm front combined with large city events to create the perfect storm for local businesses, which saw hot weekend sales.

"I don't know whether it was the fireman's convention, the Street Faire, or the warm weather," said Lakeshirts Beach Store Manager Judy Nunn, "but whatever it is, we'll take more of it!"

Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Johnston says every hotel in the city was booked.

"I heard maybe there was like one room available," she laughed.

Johnston says the Street Faire boasted 125 booths, with most of them coming from out of town.

"And each booth has two to three people working them, so right away that's at least 300 people," said Johnston, "And they generally end up getting a hotel room and spending the night because they have to get up and have their booths ready the next day."

Johnston estimates the Street Faire as bringing in about 5,000 people into town for the event.

"Many are local, but we gathered names this year at our information booth, which gave away chamber bucks," said Johnston, "We wanted to try to get an idea of where everybody is coming from, and generally people were coming in from about a 100-mile radius."

Firefighters attending the 136th Annual Minnesota State Fire Department Association Conference in Detroit Lakes also generated some heat in the local stores, restaurants and bars.

"It was crazy. It was awesome," said Lakeside's Bar Manager Katie Regan.

"It was a steady stream of people from the minute we opened up until we closed at 1 a.m.," said Regan, "Those firefighters and their wives were great."

Those "great" people totaled an additional 800 patrons around Detroit Lakes.

Regan says although at times it got tough to keep up with the swarms of hungry diners, they were prepared.

"We had a lot of extra people working, so we were ready for it."

Donna and Curtis Quam of Big Daddy's Quick Stop (the Tesoro gas station on Highway 59) were also ready for the hoppin' weekend, but the belts on their car wash pumps weren't as ready for the rush.

"We had 70 car washes on Saturday alone," said Donna Quam, "It went so steady that the belts got too hot and we had to shut it down for a while."

With that good problem to deal with, Quam says they also stayed busy with high food, ice and gas sales.

While many local businesses were booming over the weekend, many of them were also working together in a cross-merchandising technique.

"We stick these 20-percent-off coupons in the local hotels, and it worked -- we had a bunch of them come in," said Nunn, of Lakeshirts.

Becker Pet and Garden and the Candy Store also took advantage of that plan, with their coupons also sitting in local hotels.

"We have like a bouquet of coupons now," said the marketing director for the stores Rodneyl Smith, "it was extremely busy, and lots of people brought our coupons in."

And so begins another busy, and ideally lucrative summer in Detroit Lakes.

Next up, the Antique Automobile Club of America's Central Division National Spring Meet, being held in Detroit Lakes this weekend.

That event is expected to bring in over a hundred classic cars, and hundreds more potential shoppers and consumers.