The Big Chill
freezing nearly all month.
People who didn't have to go out, didn't. "We had one day in December where sales were about half what they should have been," says bookstore owner Nicola Rooney. She doesn't expect to make it up--"lost sales are lost sales forever," she says--but she understands. On the worst days, she called her own employees who lived far away and told them, "I don't want you on the road."
Main Street Area Association Director Maura Thomson says members told her the bitter weather was the "greatest challenge they've seen in years." Restaurants had it particularly tough, she says, because they staffed for customers who didn't show. Beauty salons and barbershops also lost out. On a very messy day in February, one downtown stylist had five clients cancel.
But not every business suffered. "January and February are very slow months for us regardless of weather," says Mark Hodesh of Downtown Home and Garden. This year, though, his sales actually went up in January, thanks to a run on shovels and birdseed--"people feel more sorry for birds in cold weather," Hodesh says. And Stadium Hardware, says co-owner Skip Hackbarth, was "extremely busy ... We've sold, between January and February, 2,700 fifty-pound bags of salt. We can go through a mild winter without selling a couple hundred."