Burning Man boosts business in Northern Nevada

Fanciful and frivolous displays are the norm at the annual Burning Man  celebration.

Fanciful and frivolous displays are the norm at the annual Burning Man celebration.

As tens of thousands of burners get ready to head to the playa, local businesses in Northern Nevada prepare for a bump in business.

Burning Man provides an estimated annual economic impact of $45 million in Northern Nevada, Jim Graham with the Burning Man communications team, said in an email. He also said in 2015, the event had a paid population of 67,564 people and this year they have a cap of 70,000 paid participants for 2016.

Many of these attendees patronize local grocery stores, bicycle shops, hotels and other local businesses before and after Burning Man. One business in particular that gears-up for an increase in business is Whole Foods.

According to Janet Kurvers, the store team leader for the Reno Whole Foods, the store typically averages 3,500 transactions per day; however, around Burning Man the store averages 5,500 transactions per day.

“Burning Man is a big event for our region,” Kurvers said.

The team starts planning in June to make sure that their displays are up the second week of August because there are many participants who head out to the playa early.

The store also brought on additional staff members from their Sacramento sister stores. Employees from the Folsom, Roseville and Arden stores come to Reno to compensate for the increase in business.

“After eight years Whole Foods really knows how to prepare” for Burning Man, Kurvers said.

In 2012, the store brought some of their team out to the playa to better assess what Burners need.

“That was so much fun and it was a great experience,” Kurvers said.

The store stocks up on water, coconut water, raw food, smoked salmon, jerky, and canned items than can easily be consumed on the playa. However, Burners are buying more than just dry goods and canned foods. Last year, they saw an increase in sales for many fresh items.

“What is happening is a lot of groups that go out have RVs,” Kurvers said. “They are making gourmet meals out there.”

Whole Foods partnered with Reno Cycling to have a mobile bike repair station outside of the store to repair and purchase bicycles before customers head out to Black Rock.

Whole Foods also brought Nom Eats Vegan Food Truck and DoughBoys Doughnuts in Damonte Ranch to the store to provide food for its employees during this busy time.

“The benefits do spill out to our community,” Kurvers said about the impact of Burning Man.

Another business that is ramping up for Burning Man is Rapid Recovery Hydration Solutions. The business, based out of Truckee, offers a variety of treatments to hydrate and balance vitamins and electrolytes for attendees before and after Burning Man.

This type of medical concierge service is “popping up all over the country and all over the world,” owner Debbie Fajans said in a phone interview.

The Grand Sierra Resort also attracts many Burners before and after the event. According to their website, the resort is the “unofficial pre-burn hotel and post-burn party headquarters in Reno.” They offer special discounted rates for Burning Man attendees before and after the event.

There are many other local businesses that see an increase in business during this time including Junkee Clothing Exchange and Melting Pot World Emporium both located in Reno’s Midtown. According to their website, Melting Pot World Emporium has been named one of the best places to shop for Burning Man and this year they extended their business hours for the 2016 Burning Man, even staying open the entire night the Saturday before Burning Man.


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