Blizzard impacts local businesses

February 22, 2013

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
The entire state was impacted by the blizzard last weekend, including businesses around the area. President and CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Michael Nicastro said he was hearing from his members that they were dealing with the process of cleaning up and getting back to normal, but it hasn’t been easy.
“Everyone needs to recognize that 30 inches of snow is unprecedented,” Nicastro said, adding that most of the businesses he had spoken with wanted consumers to know they were open and operating. “They have been having some issues with parking, and staff not being able to get out of their homes, but the most important thing they want people to know is that they are open.”
At the Pottery Piazza Studio in Plainville, business came to a halt. Sarah Ewertowski, owner of Pottery Piazza Studio, said there were many birthday parties scheduled for last weekend, so party clients were contacted in advance to reschedule those parties at their convenience.
“We also offer ‘Pottery to Go’ so customers who need to get their pottery painting fix can buy pottery, paints and supplies in advance and bring them home to paint while they are snowed in and then they drop them back off for firing at their convenience,” Ewertowski said.
Even though she wanted to open on Sunday after the storm, she was unable to because the parking lot hadn’t been plowed out yet.
“We are open now though (last Tuesday) and are ready and waiting for painters wishing to forget about all this snow,” she said in an email.
For future reference, and other business owners, Ewertowski said she would say the most important thing during a difficult time like a blizzard, that drops an abundance of snow very quickly, is communication. She said communicating with employees as well as customers via social media and email is key.
“Making it easy for your customers to find out what’s going on is important to minimizing the potential loss of business,” she added.
While most businesses shut down operations during the storm, City True Value Hardware in Bristol remained open for customers needing supplies and repairs. Diane Methe, manager at City True Value Hardware, said the store was open all weekend, with extended hours.
“We had an abundance of goods to help our customers” like shovels, snow blowers, ice melt and sand, and more. She said she was putting in emergency orders regularly and the store, as of last Wednesday, still remained busy with repairs and customers looking for more equipment. Methe said on Wednesday that the store was expecting a shipment of about 30 more snow blowers that day.
“This isn’t the first bad storm that we have been open for,” she said, referring to storms of all kinds, like hurricanes. “We are here for our customers.”
Even though the store was open, Methe said during conditions like the ones last weekend, she said safety always comes first, and “if you can’t get out safely, it’s not worth it.” She added that she felt bad for the other businesses who lost revenue over the weekend, and said the public should go out and make up for it.
Nicastro said moving forward, after a large storm like the blizzard last weekend, both businesses and government should begin to discuss what operations worked and what needs to be improved.
“Overall, we all just have to be patient,” he said. “No one is prepared for these kinds of storms.”
In Plainville, Core Studio closed down early on Friday, when the storm was approaching. Joy Perugini, owner and president of Core, said the studio remained closed Saturday and Sunday, which had an impact on the largest classes of the week. She said the studio opened early Monday morning for a 5:30 a.m. cycling class but cancelled its 9:15 a.m. class since the roads turned to “a sheet of ice,” Perugini said in an email. She added that Core cancelled a total of nine classes and expects it to impact the end of the month bottom line. She said the parking lot Core uses, the municipal lot off of Whiting Street, “looked like a snow maze.” But the landlords of the building on Whiting Street, the Petit family, were able to take care of the parking lot with payloaders and dump trucks. She said Core Studio was back up-and-running on Tuesday. Her advice for the future is to keep clients “in-the-know” about what is going on via social media, emails and phone calls.
“Utilizing email and social media has helped us tremendously with spreading the word, thus avoiding the disappointment of someone who makes the trek through the snow only to find a business closed,” Perugini said. Since Core is a fitness studio, Perugini said all of the emails to clients encouraged them to “stay active and get outside and “play” in the snow, complete with tips for shoveling snow safely.”
Sabino’s Italian Restaurant and Lounge closed for three days, owner Joseph Sabino said. “When you have to close on the weekend you lose out on everything,” Sabino said, adding that he expects this closure, which was the first time Sabino’s has closed for three days, will affect the bottom line financially.

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