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Sturgis economy banks on rally in down year


Storms may have put a slight damper on this years Sturgis Rally, but it wasn’t all dark clouds. Business owners are still reporting a strong turnout all things considered.

Sturgis city officials report 751 total vender licenses this year – down six from 2022. For those venders though, there was still money to be made, even on rainy days.

“I think everybody did fairly well," said Sturgis city rally and events coordinator Tammy Even-Cordell said. "The rain takes into account for everything, but I think everybody did have a good rally. I didn’t have anybody come running and screaming at me so, they were pretty happy with all the crowds that were here.”

The money that orbits the rally has real implications for the community’s economy. Terri Oedekoven is the manager of Sturgis Photo and Gifts. She explained what the rally means for her business.

“The rally keeps our doors open year-round," Oedekoven said. "It enables us to provide a service to Sturgis of a local business open year-round. We, as in any business, January, February and March are the killer months, and the income from the rally helps us employ and keep our doors open.”

While most of those jobs are temporary, rally-only positions, for the rest of the year that handful of jobs housed at Oedekoven’s business wouldn’t be in Sturgis otherwise.

On the other end of the spectrum are businesses like Dixon Flannels, an Arizona-based clothing store that took out a three-year lease for storefront space in Sturgis as they look to expand into a new market.

While now their doors are only open for the rally, manager Alexis Yanda said they see potential in Sturgis.

“We’re going to see the traffic that we get, obviously it’s going to be a little different when it’s not the rally season," Yanda said. "We’ll see what traffic we bring, whose coming by, and depending on how well we do during the summertime we might be open the full year, or we might just be open for the summer, it really just depends on how well we do. I would love it to be full-time, and then we could get the proper staff we need to run the store year-round. Hopefully it happens in the future.”

This years’ rally tally counted just over 458,000 vehicles, down over eight percent from the five-year average.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture