WESTFIELD, NJ — A string of winter storms are spelling lost revenues for many local businesses. During Thursday’s Nor’easter, which dumped over a foot of snow on the area, Downtown Westfield was like a ghost town.
Daniela Palumbo, owner of Ella Allure Interior Design Center, decided not to open her shop Thursday for the first time this year. When she came by that day to shovel the sidewalks, “I was surprised that everybody was closed,” said Palumbo. “Even Starbucks.”
Even on the snowy days when she was able to open, few customers ventured out. “It’s been pretty bad,” Palumbo said.
And it’s not just the day that a storm hits—business on days before and after storms is strongly affected, too, Palumbo noted. She said some clients had to cancel Friday because they couldn’t clear the snow from their driveways fast enough, and others canceled on Wednesday because they had to run errands before the storm hit.
Jamie Lester, a massage therapist and Co-Owner of Seraphim Wellness, saw this too, as clients cancelled appointments to take care of preparations for the storm.
After the snow, “The parking situation worsens due to the accumulation,” said Lester. “And people don’t want to trek out in the cold.”
Restaurants are especially hard-hit.
“The weather has had a dreadful impact on our new business,” said Jill Korcusko-Ramirez, who owns Blue Sky Café with husband Marcos Ramirez. “Not only does the snow force us on some days not be able to open, but the cold/polar vortex causes most people to stay inside and not want to venture out for food.”
Severe weather causes supply problems, too.
“For instance, our bread company was closed yesterday so we didn’t get our bread delivery today,” Korcusko-Ramirez said on Friday. “Since we order fresh daily we literally have no bread to open for business today. We've seen our numbers in January and February plummet compared to the prior months.”
Local leaders are asking people to support small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the weather.
“In trying times such as these, when weather patterns are wreaking havoc on anticipated revenues, we must all be deliberate in our buying decisions,” said Heather L. Robinson, executive director of the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “If you live in an area, supporting your local businesses acts to help you, as well as them. It is a symbiotic relationship, and is of the utmost importance. To shop local is to take care of each other. Strengthening our local economy is vital to our collective prosperity.”
As the snow melted downtown on Friday, “Everyone is open today and many of the restaurants are booked for Valentine’s Day,” said Sherry Cronin, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation. “Business is brisk for Brummer’s, The Chocolate Bar, Crumbs, Bovella’s and Carlo’s Bakery, too. Jeffrey’s said that they are opening on Sunday, as well, this week. There are many posts on Facebook reminding customers that they are open. Le Bain is having a Stupid Cupid ANTI-Valentine’s Day event today from 6 to 8 p.m.”
She added, “We hope they can recoup the lost sales due to this crazy weather.”