published Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Rain brings flood of business to some in Chattanooga area, but dry spell for outdoor attractions

Brandon O’Neal, foreground, and Josh Hood, workers with AAA Basement Waterproofing Systems, prep a ditch for the sub-floor drainage system at a Cleveland, Tenn., residence Tuesday.
Brandon O’Neal, foreground, and Josh Hood, workers with AAA Basement Waterproofing Systems, prep a ditch for the sub-floor drainage system at a Cleveland, Tenn., residence Tuesday.
Photo by Dan Henry.


• Basement waterproofing businesses

• Deck repair services

• Bowling alleys

• Movie theaters


• Painters

• Air conditioning businesses

• Ice cream shops

• Golf courses

• Marinas

People were lined up out the door when Chattanooga bowling alley and entertainment center Pin Stripes opened on the Fourth of July, and customers faced a hour-and-a-half wait for one of the alley's 24 lanes.

"July Fourth was astronomically the best day ever," said Scott Proesch, events and marketing director at Pin Strikes.

But 15 miles away at the Dockside Cafe in Harrison, tables were empty. Usually, Fourth of July is the marina restaurant's best weekend of the year, but not this year.

"Fourth of July was definitely a bust," said server Emily Mebley. "A lot of our summer business is boaters, and we were expecting to have a huge Fourth of July but we barely had any customers all weekend."

It's a dichotomy that's defined the summer for many businesses as the region sees near-record rainfall and cooler-than-normal temperatures. So far this year, 53.03 inches of rain have fallen on the Scenic City -- 19 inches greater than the normal rate and just 4 inches below the record year-to-date rainfall in 1994.

The rain is slicing a clear line through businesses -- for some, business is flowing like never before, but others are hitting a dry spell. At Pin Strikes, the Independence Day kicked off a summer that's been three times busier than normal.

"We love when it rains as far as our industry goes," Proesch said. "It has definitely tremendously boosted our revenue compared to last year."

Out at Moccasin Bend Golf Course, the greens look great, said Chad Malone, golf course superintendent. But the number of people heading out to enjoy them is down.

"It has been the rainiest summer I've been a part of in my 23 years in golf business," he said. "Business is down. Two of our busiest days of the year are the Fourth of July and Memorial Day and we lost both of those to rain -- not just on the day but the days before and after, too. So we lose the whole weekend."

He added that even if it doesn't rain, if rain is forecast, customers opt not to risk it and stay inside.

At AAA Waterproofing Systems, owner Donna Mahan specializes in waterproofing basements and said she's getting more calls than normal, although the new callers sometimes hesitate to follow through.

"It's a good increase, with the economy being what it is," she said. "A lot of people who bought the houses during the drought and this is their first experience -- they think it's just one time or two times and they don't think it will be an ongoing problem."

For businessman Andy Vincent, the rain is a double-edged sword. He owns both Deck Doctor of Chattanooga, a company that cleans and repairs decks, and Tri-State Painting, which handles residential painting. His painting business is suffering under the summer downpours.

"We've not done as many jobs on the painting side," he said. "A job we could normally finish in five or six work days has taken us two weeks or longer to get those five or six work days in."

He added that his paint employees are working about a third less hours than normal. But on the deck side, the calls are racking up as the damp days speed up the growth of mildew and algae.

The challenge, he said, is getting all that work done between rainy days.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or at

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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