Retail freeze

With icy, dangerous temperatures reaching low enough for schools and even college campuses to close, local businesses are trying to get through lulls in traffic while weathering the second “polar vortex” to hit since the new year began.

Ice and extreme temperatures have not just driven people indoors, but with many local schools closed Tuesday and Monday and several days during previous weeks, parents are more likely to be home because children are there during the day.

Despite several weeks of frigid cold spouts, restaurants, retailers and services are staying open, staying positive, and crossing fingers that traffic will pick up with the temperatures.

Baker and Baker Jewelers is no exception, but the 95-year-old business has seen its share of slow days recently.

“It’s a combination of schools closing and bad weather, where you can put the “Gone Fishing” sign in the window,” said Larry Hall, the business’s owner. “When kids are out of school everything comes to a screeching halt, but we still make it happen.”

The jewelry store closed early Saturday after employees reported a total lack of traffic, and Hall said they use these times to do inventory, house cleaning and jewelry repairs.

Hall and other merchants said business has been worse in the morning when it’s the coldest, but it usually picks up in the afternoon, especially if the sun comes out.

With a handful of salons in the area that offer walk-in services only, people have also saved haircuts for when the ice thaws.

“We’re pretty slow, and it’s been like that for days,” said Cheryl Shedlowski, a stylist at Smartstyle Family Hair Salon.

On the other end, places that help out busy families are affected quite differently by the cold temperatures.

“Business here is booming,” said Sam Anderson, director of the Boys and Girls Club in Marietta.

The club was open Tuesday even though area schools were not, and Anderson said it’s an opportunity to help out parents during the day.

“Now we can be meeting another need, so we’re keeping things on for the kids,” she said.

The Boys and Girls club normally has big numbers for its afternoon program when children come after school, but recently it’s been more of an all-day affair.

From 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the club usually spends that time doing grant work and keeping books, but with 31 children in during the normal school day, it’s a different experience.

Grocery stores also see a different trend when weather gets bad, with many people hurrying in to grab essential food items in case they’re kept inside for a few days.

Warren’s IGA reported that from about 4 to 6 p.m. as people get off work, the normal rush hour the store experiences saw a boom from people wanting to grab food on the way home to avoid having to go back out.

The Boathouse BBQ, a restaurant that counts on summertime as its big season for business, still saw a significant change as the weather turned bad.

“Saturday was pretty bad because of the snow and cold. It’s one of our biggest days normally so we saw the biggest difference,” said Kelly Gray, the BBQ’s bar manager.

Teri Pfeffer, owner of Teri Ann’s fashion store, said although the slow days are concerning, she stays positive.

“It happens, and we have no control over it,” she said “We’re getting things done, we have new spring merchandise, and were just anxious for the weekend when we hope to get some more people out.”

Shop and restaurant owners agreed that not getting any business will always cause worry, but they stay open as long as they can for any customers who wants to brave the weather.

“Some people like the challenge, and other people hibernate. It’s unpredictable,” Hall said. “We’re always concerned, but were more concerned about the big picture. A few days won’t matter.”

In 1948, the recorded low temperature on Jan. 28 was measured at -12 degrees. The National Weather Service predicted Tuesday temperatures to fall to about a -7 degree low.

The National Weather Service station in Wilmington also reported many regions in the state saw the coldest temperatures and wind chill factors since 1994.