State of the Forks Chamber 20/21

  • Fri Feb 12th, 2021 11:43am
  • News

By Lissy Andros

Forks Chamber Executive Director

Chamber has 260 members consisting of:

14 Sponsors to include:

Clallam County

Decker City Hardware (new in 2021)

Dew Drop Inn

First Federal

Forks Motel

Forks Outfitters

Kalaloch Lodge

Lunsford Real Estate & Property Management

Pacific Inn Motel

Peninsula College

Professional Realty Service

Quileute Oceanside Resort & RV Park

Whiteheads Auto Parts, Inc.

Wilder Auto Center

194 Organizational Memberships

31 Additional Businesses

4 Introductory Organizations

17 Individual Memberships

Our 2021 volunteer Board consists of:

Christi Baron, President

Diana Reaume, VP

Bruce Paul, Treasurer

Sharon Millett, Secretary

At Large members County Commissioner Bill Peach, Melene Bourm, Linda Keen, and Judge Bruce Hanify

City of Forks representative – Mayor Tim Fletcher

Quileute Tribe Representative – Renee Rux, QOS Manager

Our annual budget is 467,470.00 for 2021 which is contingent on the FTF Festival taking place. We are budgeted for a $5k surplus.

We work closely with the City of Forks to make Forks an appealing destination for visitors, and a better community for residents. Our neighbors, the Quileute Tribe have been closed since March of 2020 and we hear they might reopen around April. The Makah Tribe announced that the earliest they may open is June. Even with the Reservations being closed, we continue to promote the area so that we may bring visitors back when it’s safe for the people of the villages.

We are funded through City of Forks Lodging Taxes, Jefferson County Lodging Taxes, Clallam County Lodging Taxes, various grants, membership dues, merchandise sales, and public support. The Forks Chamber represents Forks, Clallam County and the western portion of Jefferson County. We also apply for tourism grants from Port of Port Angeles and Port of Seattle when we have the opportunity.

Our biggest expense on our budget is staffing. Currently, our staff includes myself as Chamber E.D., 2 staff members, Gay Bunnell and Kari Larson, working 28-35 hours per week depending on the time of year, 1 staff member, Rob Hunter, working 8-12 hours weekly to assist the E.D. We will hire additional staff during the spring to cover our summer season.

As Chamber executive director I sit on several boards including Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission, Clallam County LTAC, and Association of Visitor Centers of Washington (AVICW) of which I am president.

In 2020 the Chamber acted as an information portal for many different programs for our members, from EIDL Loans, to PPP, to grant opportunities. As representatives for the west end, Bill Peach and I sat on many grant discussions with Clallam EDC to bring as many grant funds to the west end as possible. We welcomed new businesses to Forks during 2020 and offered support to businesses suffering hardships due to other circumstances. We look forward in 2021 to continue that support.

In 2020 we saw consistent travel to the Olympic Peninsula, and especially the Forks area. With 73 miles of wilderness coastline, and almost a million acres of National Park surrounding us, the Forks area seemed to be uniquely situated to withstand some of the hardships of the 2020 tourism season. We noticed that during the stressfulness of the pandemic the beach seemed to beckon people to our backyard. Travelers are actively planning to travel to Washington, and Forks specifically. New this year, we had to implement an order system for visitor packets due to posts on TikTok and Facebook. In one weekend in October we received over 2000 packet requests from people with no intention to travel here. Many couldn’t even provide their address properly (only included a street name, no city or state). To make sure we sent them to those people truly wanting to travel here we devised a plan to charge $5 for the packets and then include a $5 coupon to our visitor center giftshop in the packet. For those that had no plans to travel here but simply wanted a souvenir, this plan worked for them as well. Since implementing the plan in mid-November we have had an average of 40 packets per month. Our goal is 60 packets per month.

Forever Twilight in Forks Collection and Festival are doing well. The Collection continues to add new exhibits and welcome new and returning customers. We are currently doing private tours only but look forward to reopening to the general public. The festival went virtual in 2020, but for 2021 we are actively planning for an in-person event. We have sold over 200 VIT (Very Important Twilighter) tickets in full, and have about 40 tickets in our payment plan. Our goal is to sell 330 VIT Tickets. Once they are sold-out, we can still offer party tickets and panel tickets. We appreciate all the support from our FTF Sponsors, which make this event possible.

Our goals for this year are to continue supporting businesses, reimplement the lodging concierge service, replace the roof on the visitor center, purchase new light pole banners and trash cans for Forks Avenue, and to continue to make Forks a great place to live.