On Sunday afternoon, Michael Berryman, manager of the Pine Cove and Mountain Center markets, spoke to the newspaper about how the Nov. 1 reopening of Highway 243 impacted business. Berryman has been managing both locations since May of 2011. Currently, there are four employees at Pine Cove and five at Mountain Center. 

Having to be aware of finances, Berryman did his best to keep all his employees’ hours up, knowing they all had bills to pay and mouths to feed. 

“When this first happened, I knew we were going to lose business, but I didn’t know how much,” Berryman said. “I was struggling to keep the employees we had, but we managed to keep everybody.”

With locals supporting the Pine Cove Market, it kept the doors open. Many bought groceries there instead of going into Idyllwild, keeping sales in the market steady throughout the highway’s closure. 

However, the lack of tourists passing through dramatically decreased fuel sales. Highway 243 from Lake Fulmor to Banning closed Feb. 14 and reopened Nov. 1 due to torrential rains on Feb. 14 that caused a full closure of highways 243 and 74.  

  “In Pine Cove, our gas sales were affected, down by probably about 35% and propane sales about 15-20%,” Berryman said. “The sales immediately increased when Highway 243 reopened. Luckily, we have necessities like bread and milk in the store which helped keep us afloat.” 

With all roads now open and traffic back to normal, the Pine Cove Market is seeing a shift in traffic, sales and people.