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Shambhala ripple effect welcomed by Nelson businesses

Many businesses see increase in business as a result of 10,000 people coming to the area for Shambhala.
Faith Kremler

If you need a new camping cooler or propane cylinder, you may have to wait until next week.

With 10,000 people camping for five nights at the Salmo River Ranch during the Shambhala Music Festival, local shops have had trouble keeping outdoor equipment on the shelf.

John McArthur, manager at Hipperson Home Hardware, said the store has been very busy with festival-goers.

“It’s good for us, we get a noticeable spike in customers, as most businesses on Baker Street probably do,” McArthur said, noting other popular items include ice packs, flashlights and beach accessories, such as floating tubes.

“I ordered heavy on all the things they need for the festival, but still our shelves are almost bare,” McArthur said.

The situation is the same in Nelson Walmart. The sleeping bags have been picked over and there’s long bare shelves that used to be filled with tents and camping chairs.

Temporary signs are posted advising customers that the camping gear is final sale. A Walmart employee explained the no-returns policy is to prevent people from bringing back used items after the festival, which had been a problem in the past.

“If something’s defective, of course we’d still take it back,” the employee explained. “We just don’t want to get stuff back covered in dirt that’s obviously been used.”

Over at Ellison’s Market, they’re embracing the rush of festival shoppers with their Shambhala survival kit display.

Faith Kremler, personal care manager at the grocery store, said employees that regularly go to the festival helped pick the items for the display.

“It’s mostly things to eat and drink, and things to keep the critters away,” Kremler explained, noting that electrolyte supplements and coconut water are big sellers, as well as easy snacks like granola.

Other items in the display include natural bug repellents, such as the No Scratch Patch, which has vitamin B1 that your skin absorbs to keep bugs away.

Two first time Shambhala-goes from Kelowna said they bought a few things in Nelson to avoid the inflated prices on the festival grounds.

“We bought some food from the market and some batteries,” said Fraser Esdale who had travelled to the festival with Kyla Macgregor.

Both age 19, the two had been looking forward to being old enough to attend the festival for years. They painted their car with the message “On the Road to Shambhala” and came prepared with costumes to wear over the weekend.

“We’re going to be fuzzy and colourful,” said Macgregor.

At the Salmo Esso station, store manager Wendy said she loves all the eccentric people that stop in for last minute supplies. She says they bring on two extra staff to handle the rush.

“Our biggest seller is definitely energy drinks and bottled water,” she said, noting the shop also stocks extra tobacco products, flashlights and toothbrushes leading up to the festival.

“We’ll be swamped again on Monday when everyone is leaving,” she said.

Ainsworth Hot Springs is also a popular post-festival destination. General manager Karen LeMoel expects hundreds of extra people stopping in to use the pool on Monday. She has three extra staff scheduled for that day.

“Some people will also stay at the hotel, but the pool is what most people want,” LeMoel said. “It’s about as busy as a typical long weekend. It’s a nice boost for us.”

The Shambhala festival started yesterday and runs until Monday.