After "Meet the Incumbents" (or "Incumbants" if you read the Desert Messenger...) it was reported that our current leaders have no real plan to reverse the downward spiral or grow and encourage the tourism industry here. I can't provide exact quotes because recording devices were apparently prohibited, but it was reported by multiple sources that the dialog centered around the belief that we should all accept that Quartzsite's glory days are over and we just need to find "new sources of revenue". I interpret that as higher taxes, increased rates, more fees, more grants with strings attached and co pays we can't afford to match, and fines for anyone they discover is out of compliance.
At this week's "Meet Your Candidates", hosted By Crawford's Trailer Park, Ed Foster, Russell Sias and Bill Moore had viable ideas for revitalizing tourism (Chaunce Hamilton was forced to call in sick and the incumbents didn't bother to attend). If you have any ideas on this or any other subject, there will be one more open forum on Tuesday the 11th, from 4 - 6 pm at Crawford's Trailer Park, 315 E. Main St. in Quartzsite.
How is Quartzsite viewed by "snow birds" and other travelers who disperse their opinion to the far reaches of the globe? Do people leave here with a positive experience to share with others along their journey, or was the time they spent here a disappointment? If our visitors are leaving here feeling like the fellow who published the following article and accompanying videos, then we are in a public relations crisis for sure!
RVers disappear from Quartzsite in 2009
For many years Quartzsite, Arizona has been a Mecca for winter RVers. One long time vendor at the Big Tent told me, “Ten years ago people were so thick you could smell the BO a block away. Not anymore, now you could shoot a cannonball through the middle and not hit anybody.”
I've visited Quartzsite for the last five years and can attest to the fact that things here have changed. Most old timers I talked with told me Quartzsite has lost its appeal and wasn't any fun anymore.
Speaking with the campground host at Hi Jolly BLM campground I learned RVers are still coming but not staying as long. He told me campers now stay only two or three days where in the past they would stay a full two weeks. He says the cost of sewer disposal and fresh water has gone up. He also reports the city is boosting revenue by handing out more $125 speeding tickets. I did notice two speed traps while traveling about town.
Quartzsite vendors complain rent prices have skyrocketed. They used to pay $150 a month for a patch of dirt and now it averages around $1000 or more a month (depending on the size of the dirt). One long time vendor estimates only half the vendor spaces were rented out this year.Don Lasley is a full time RVer and vendor whose store is called, “Lasley's Country Store.” They travel all over the country doing shows, flea markets and swap-meets. He says Quartzsite, “Has been going downhill for the last four years.” He reports that most vendors didn't do well at all this year and the business is, “Nothing like it used to be.”
Dave Skinner a vendor who owns his own building has been doing business in Quartzsite for 26 years. When he first started property taxes were $700 a year now they are $8,000. When I asked him if business was off, he replied that three years ago he was doing $3,000 per month in sales and now he's lucky if he does two to four hundred. The only way he is able to stay open is because he has a thriving mail order embroidery business. He knows many vendors who will not return next year.
What used to be a crowded marketplace is now largely deserted and the people who do meander by are not spending much money. I did discover a vendor selling a snake. Well..., it was a “Gummy” snake, but hey, it was a sale!Things started changing when the big RV dealerships bought up the property on main street. What used to be a sea of vendor stalls is now a slew of RV dealerships (many of which have gone out of business or are on the brink of bankruptcy). Because of the economy RV sales have dried up. It used to be that the Maytag repairman had the loneliest job in town, but now it's the RV salesman!
City Hall also started squeezing more money out of local businessmen by raising taxes and fees (ten times in the case of permits) and so helped to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. So if only half the available spaces were rented this year, where did all the vendors go?
Many are still in Arizona but they have congregated at other places setting up shop like in Vicksburg, Arizona. I was here early in the morning before any vendors were open, but this is how the old time Quartzsite started.
It appears to me Quartzsite has lost it's luster and will continue to fade as time marches on. This former gold mine has played out and like many ghost towns of the old west will dry up and blow away with the tumbleweeds.