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In Park City Utah, Small Confection Business Rides Recession

Business has boomed at Park City, Utah's high-priced and trendy ski resort since the 2002 Winter Olympics were staged nearby. But this year, the town of 7,000 and its businesses are suffering with the U.S. economy in the middle of a severe recession.

Steve Lund started his fudge business in Park City, Utah, 11 years ago.

"Park City has changed tremendously in 11 years," he says. "We were here for the Olympics and since then, there's been a lot of growth, a lot of expansion, a lot of new buildings further down the street on Main Street. The environment is changing."

But the confectioner says this year, Park City's booming economy has slowed down considerably. Like other ski resorts, Park City has seen a decline in tourism amid the bad economy. According to Utah's Salt Lake Tribune, this past winter, 20 percent fewer skiers came to town. Ski lifts climbed the mountains mostly empty and the skiers sparsely dotted the slopes.

Lund's business has slowed down by 25 percent. That is because, he says, retail businesses along Park City's Main Street rely heavily on winter tourists and foot traffic.

"We count on the people on the street. That's where it comes from," he says.

Park City's annual Sundance Film Festival is a boon for business. The festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, marks the peak season for the resort's small businesses. For 10 days every winter, the town is flooded with visitors. Movie lovers, filmmakers, actors, businessmen and the occasional big-time celebrity, such as Robin Williams this year, are strolling down Main Street.

Lund says, interestingly enough, the recession actually boosted business for retailers during this year's Sundance event. That is because, he says, many private corporations in the past held many private parties. But this year?

"Because the economy is not doing so well, a lot of private corporations are not here this year, and more people are out on the street experiencing Park City rather than going from party to party," he notes.

During this 10 day period, public bus transportation thrived as well.

But what about after the clock runs out on Sundance Film Festival? Robert, a bus driver, can tell you.

"I change into a pumpkin. I do. No, actually, I drive for other things. We do Yellowstone, Branson Missouri, San Diego - do special tours, stuff like that," he smiles.

Like Robert, Lund is also riding the recession. He had to let go of two of his employees and is left with only one. At least his sweet confections help him through these sour times.