Black Diamond merchants are back in business and eager to welcome this year’s summer tourists.
Many experienced a rough summer last year after the Sheep River flooded a number of businesses and destroyed a portion of Highway 22 just west of town, cutting off all traffic from the west for three weeks.
David Petrovich, Town of Black Diamond economic development and events coordinator, said the temporary road closure resulted in a drastic decrease in business for many merchants and took another two months for tourism to pick up.
“Tourism dropped off,” he said. “We definitely saw a dent.”
The hardest part was people thought Black Diamond was closed for business, said Petrovich.
“Only a few locations closed any amount of time and that was right by the river,” he said.” We have never been closed for business.”
Petrovich said merchants are putting it all behind them and are gearing up for what they expect will be a busy summer.
Among them is Marv’s Classic Soda Shop owner Marv Garriott who is eager to host his annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Classic this summer and serve up more of his carbonated ice cream Marvello out of his Harvester ice cream truck.
“I’m going to get my truck out as much as I can,” he said. “We will be here and serving up fun.”
Once again, Marv’s Classic Soda Shop will extend its business hours to remain open until 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays throughout the summer.
“We usually do anyway,” said Garriott. “Last year I didn’t because nobody was going up into the Kananaskis, there was nobody in the campground. There was basically nobody out here.”
Black Diamond emerged above last summer’s struggles and is increasing its profile across southern Alberta with advertisements in businesses and publications to encourage people to head southwest into the quaint little community.
Black Diamond is a great place to visit. It boasts more than 100 stores including art galleries featuring unique and local art, beautiful jewelry and clothing, a large greenhouse, numerous eateries and various opportunities for unique dining experiences and eclectic shopping.
The community is also a popular stopping point because of its proximity to the Kananaskis, where many people seek adventures whether it’s horseback riding, hiking, skiing or camping.
The community is also known for its historic look that has made it so popular and authentic. The large black diamond in also a draw, often bringing flocks of visitors with cameras in hand to get a photo of the world’s largest black diamond.