Burning Man boosts business in Western Nevada

One local market that sees an increase in business from Burning Man is Whole Foods. In 2012, the store took their team members to the playa to better understand what Burners need for the event.

One local market that sees an increase in business from Burning Man is Whole Foods. In 2012, the store took their team members to the playa to better understand what Burners need for the event.

As tens of thousands of people have passed through Western Nevada heading for Burning Man organizers estimated they will leave $45 million in their wake.

Douglas County department stores have displays aimed at Burners. At the Jacks Valley Target, a variety of displays near the entrance targeted travelers to Black Rock City.

Jim Graham with the Burning Man communications team 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.

Bottled water and tarps are hard to come by around this time of year.

Many attendees patronize grocery stores, bicycle shops, hotels and other local businesses before and after Burning Man.

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 their displays are up the second week of August because there are many participants who head out to the playa early.

This year the Reno store extended normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., to 8 a.m. to midnight over the weekend. The store also brought on additional staff members from 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 employees 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 that 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 ramped up for Burning Man was 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.

Rapid Recovery Hydration Solutions has had a booth in front of Whole Foods from Aug. 27 through today. It will also have a booth at the hanger for Reno Flying Company, just 5 minutes from the airport at 485 S. Rock Blvd, Hanger B before Burning Man and at the Grand Sierra Resort after Burning Man for the Depressurization Event.

The Grand Sierra Resort also attracts many Burners before and after the event. According to its website, the resort is the “unofficial pre-burn hotel and post-burn party headquarters in Reno.” It offers 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 its website, Melting Pot World Emporium has been named one of the best places to shop for Burning Man and this year it extended its business hours for Burning Man, even staying open the entire night the Saturday before Burning Man.

For more information about Burning Man, visit http://burningman.org/.


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