I hope everyone had a great Christmas weekend and plans to celebrate the New Year this coming weekend. New Year’s celebrations are planned at Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort and the American Legion. A fun night of bowling at Granite Bowl is another great idea to bring in the New Year, their pizza is great! The Rock is taking reservations for dinner and Dallas II has great food too! Celebrate the New Year in Granite Falls and support your local businesses!

My family all got together for Christmas at our farm place north of town which is rented on a short term basis through Airbnb. Granite Falls needs more furnished short term rentals that also provide kitchen space. The chamber office gets calls all the time from people looking for a furnished place for a week, month or longer. Many of our companies have workers coming on a temporary basis or sometimes it’s new employees who are still looking for a house to purchase.

Some cities have passed an Airbnb ordinance that allows rentals like this with an inspection process much like a motel would be inspected. Right now, Granite Falls has a bed and breakfast ordinance but it states that the owner also has to live in the property.

More variety of lodging would also be an opportunity to collect more lodging tax which all goes into the fund for the Convention and Visitors Bureau to market Granite Falls. Even without the ordinance, landlords can still rent furnished houses and apartments by the month.

If you have a house, room or apartment for rent either short or long term, furnished or unfurnished, the chamber office is a great place to leave your information as I get calls all the time from people looking for a place to rent.

The Elf on the Footbridge shopping event is over, congratulations to everyone who turned in the certificates for chamber bucks and t-shirts! You can still turn them in to the chamber office after Christmas. The Granite Falls Historical Society’s live reindeer event is going to be repeated each year to become a holiday tradition, 500 people came through the Volstead House on December 17.

The reindeer with their historical connection to Carl and Laura (Volstead) Lomen is a story for Granite Falls to embrace and market throughout the Christmas season. I plan to host a meeting to discuss this idea with our chamber retail businesses, it could also be part of a Christmas in July marketing event.

In order to compete with online shoppers and large box stores, we need a unique story and fun activities to bring customers to our local shops.

Local history is a great way to do this and we have the perfect Christmas story with the Lomen reindeer.