Every once in a while, to change things up, we post about some of the interesting places within a short distance of SSCS’s Salinas Headquarters. While everyone has their favorite, Big Sur tops a lot of lists.

Actually, the drive down to Big Sur is an attraction in itself, an hour of travel on a stretch of Highway 1, a twisty ribbon that wends along the California Coast, lining the Pacific Ocean for long spans, weaving through some of the most scenic landscapes to be found in the U.S. Here’s one of its more iconic attractions, Bixby Bridge.

While there’s no doubt that the route deserves the kudos it gets, for residents and business owners in Big Sur, the road is a bit more problematic. That’s because, when it gets really rainy, the sloping hills on the land side of Highway 1 are prone to mudslides, which makes passing through in a vehicle impossible, as was the case in 1998, 2006, 2011, 2017, and 2021.

This year, though, Mother Nature went one step further, actually collapsing part of Highway 1, with bits of the road falling off into the ocean, cutting off all travel. This, of course, was much more than an inconvenience to casual drivers, as it made the procurement of basic services and merchandise difficult for those who live there. In addition, it blocked commerce almost completely for the many small businesses which occupy the little commercial pockets that come together and form Big Sur proper:

Shortly after March 30, the day the collapse happened, the California Department of Transportation (Cal Trans) worked to provide at least nominal access between Big Sur and the more populated areas north of it. Residents and essential workers were led through twice-a-day convoys, and even these were a challenge given the unusually wet weather of early spring that sometimes caused cancellation of these trips.

This led to a sharp decline in customer numbers for local businesses, including hotels, restaurants, and shops. Many businesses in Big Sur heavily rely on tourism dollars, and even a short-term closure can mean significant financial loss. Plus Highway 1 functions as a crucial supply route, so its closure lead to delays or difficulty in receiving goods and supplies.

It was a tough time, but we’re writing this blog post because there’s good news! Last Friday—ahead of its target of Memorial Day Weekend— 24/7 access was restored to Highway 1. It may only be a one-lane road regulated by stop lights right now, but it’s a much welcomed life line to the community, with the section of road in question stabilized after weeks of work by Cal Trans and other workers. As the weather continues to get better, further progress will be made on getting the road back to two lanes.

Being a small and rural area, Big Sur’s convenience store/gas stations fall squarely into the general store model, as you can tell from their names: Big Sur General Store, Fernwood General Store, and the Ripplewood Grocery, for example. They’re all retail hubs for the community, and their perseverance during this tough time stands as an example of the resilience of the convenience store industry in general. We tip our cap to them, and others like them.

Of course, most of the challenges a c-store faces aren’t the result of physical isolation, but they can be every bit as threatening to profitability. And while the team at SSCS isn’t steeped in the finer points of emergency road reconstruction, we do know a thing or two about getting a bottom line fat and healthy through our technology, which delivers information and insights to help an operation thrive. If you want to hear more about it, please give us a call at (800) 927-7727. We might even be able to give you a few local travel tips, if you are so inclined!