Brutal winter affecting small businesses

SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) — If the frigid cold conditions this month have left people huddled under extra blankets for the past few weeks, imagine what it’s done to area shops and stores.

In Salem, a number of smaller businesses like the Natural Solutions boutique and The Lion and the Lamb bookstore, workers said the extreme cold has cut into their bottom lines. Even Wednesday, an abundance of sunshine wasn’t enough to convince many customers to brave the chill, not to mention the piles of snow still lining many streets.

“Like one of my stylists today told me, that she had regulars that are normally coming in on clockwork, but because of the weather alerts, they want to wait and so that postpones her income for a week and that obviously impacts her family,” said Jennifer Reed, owner of Natural Solutions.

She said their customers not only have to worry about driving, but also parking because of the snow piles.

It was the same story at The Lion and The Lamb bookstore.

“Definitely our traffic has slowed down. We don’t have anybody walking the streets and just saying ‘hey, let’s just stop here.’ That doesn’t happen,” said owner Derek Bender.

Workers at the bookstore also worry about the effect of the cold on their building. Some parts have no direct heat, so employees have been leaving doors open between the store itself and a storage area to keep water lines from freezing and bursting.

“Compared to what it could be, hundreds of dollars to fix, it’s worth it just to let the heating bill go up a little bit,” Bender said.

The icy conditions even have affected Reed’s Internet sales. She said customers worry it’s too cold for their shipments to be delivered. To counter that, she and her staff are trying to be more flexible.

“We try to give them options, you know? Try to convince them more, extending our hours, coming in earlier, working around things if we can,” Reed said.

It was a different story at Friends Roastery across the street, where customers were still looking for that hot cup of coffee.

“Although there were a few days that I stayed in and slept in, but pretty much just keep going, because it might be cold out, but you can’t stop,” customer Katie Rickman of Salem said.

The frigid conditions have closed the local schools three days in a row.

“We see a lot more people out as families and they’re not driving as far so we’re seeing an increase in business here,” said owner Mitch Lynch.

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