Snow puts some local businesses on ice

Some local shops close due to weather, take a financial hit

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

The recent blast of snow and ice was rough on hundreds of Clark County businesses, causing many to lose revenue as most people hunkered down at home during the blustery weekend weather.

Many retail businesses cut hours or closed shop altogether in order to keep their employees safe, knowing the cutbacks would have a negative effect on the bottom line. That was a choice worth making for Vancouver restaurant owner Glenda McCarthy, who decided not to open her Vancouver diner on Sunday, usually the busiest day of the week for her venue, Christine's Restaurant on East Evergreen Boulevard.

"I felt bad closing on Sunday, which made my employees lose eight hours of pay and made me lose the best day of the week," said McCarthy, who has operated the small breakfast-and-lunch spot since 1999, on Monday morning. "Now, I'm hoping (the snow) melts down and it rains."

A veteran of the restaurant business, McCarthy said the onset of winter typically brings on a chill for the sector. After spending more freely over the holidays, consumers in January and February are focused on paying off charge cards and preparing their federal income tax returns, she said.

"January is notoriously slow," McCarthy said.

She added that Sunday business has been slow for the last three weeks as some of Christine's regular Sunday clientele made other plans during the Seattle Seahawks' Sunday playoff games and the Super Bowl.

Camas jewelry store owner Debbie Runyan-Parker said inclement weather has also affected her shop's sales just before Valentine's Day. On Friday, very few customers made it into the store, Runyan's Jewelers-Camas. On Saturday, Runyan-Parker closed the store.

"It's definitely hard on the business, but I'd rather have people stay at home and be safe," she said. "Jewelry is not a necessity."

She admitted demand is higher this time of year for the unique jewelry items carried at her small shop at 327 N.E. Fourth Ave. It's one of the reasons Runyan-Parker was disappointed when organizers had to cancel a downtown Camas evening event.

The First Friday event, organized by downtown Camas merchants, was meant to draw shoppers and diners into the downtown core for specials and store prizes. It was cancelled by several inches of snow and a forecast that threatened to bring more.

"It's usually a night that brings a lot of people in to browse," Runyan-Parker said.

She hopes her shop will be busy enough over the next few days to make up for lost sales.

"People have until Friday to make their sweetheart happy with something special," she said.

Meanwhile, business was back to normal Monday for most of Westfield Vancouver mall's 127 stores, food outlets and kiosks. Over the weekend some stores closed, although the mall itself remained open, according to Chris Yates, a mall spokesman.

"While a handful of retailers did open late or close early, many guests enjoyed

the great services and amenities we offer at Westfield Vancouver," he said.

Yates called customer, employee and property safety a priority at Westfield, which operates the 940,230-square-foot mall, Clark County's largest indoor shopping venue.

Vancouver shopkeeper John Mosely estimated the recent bad weather accounted for a 90 percent decline in business at his store, a shipping service and supply store called Ship Shop off Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue and 99th Street. The snow and ice simply prevented his customers from making it in, Mosely said.

He added that his business depends on the passer-by customers generated by neighboring stores DollarTree and Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, anchor stores of the Northgate Village Shopping Center in Hazel Dell.

With the shopping center's traffic down in general, Mosely said his business has suffered.

"We didn't get the foot traffic that we need," he said.

His store also carries mailing supplies and art produced by local artists. He employs two people full-time in the store, which is open Mondays through Saturdays.

Despite the weather, Mosely said it was important to keep the business open.

"People like consistency," he said. "They know they can come in and be treated with dignity."

Editor's note: A correction has been made to this story. Christine's Restaurant serves breakfast and lunch.