Snow slows businesses, but they keep selling

Peggy Timmins walks down Pioneer Way Thursday afternoon. Businesses were trying to stay open despite the inches of snow and freezing temperatures.   - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Peggy Timmins walks down Pioneer Way Thursday afternoon. Businesses were trying to stay open despite the inches of snow and freezing temperatures.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Several inches of snow and frigid temperatures put a damper on holiday shopping the week before Christmas.

Despite the difficult driving conditions and poor weather, many store owners were keeping their businesses open this week.

“I’ve been trying to stay open,” said Cindy Olson, owner of Aqua on Front Street in Coupeville. “These are days that scare the heck out of me.”

With her business overlooking the end of North Main Street, she said the hill leading down to Front Street has been difficult for cars.

She added that the storm, coupled with the faltering economy, was a double whammy for business during the holidays.

Olson said she hopes the red ticket drawing held this weekend will bring people to downtown. The Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association is holding a promotion where shoppers receive a ticket for every $20 they spend at participating stores. Those tickets go into a drawing for a $1,000 cash prize. The drawing takes place Sunday at 1 p.m. in Mariners Court, said Mary Sterling of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association.

Sterling acknowledged the weather has proved challenging for businesses, but merchants are still open and cleaning the sidewalks in front of their shops.

“It’s an opportunity to come inside, get a little warmer and shop a little longer,” Sterling said, adding that the snow has made the area look postcard-beautiful.

There were more people shopping Coupeville businesses in the later part of the week.

David Svein, owner of David’s DVD Den, said the inclement weather is actually a boost for his business. With the schools empty and people not working, they come in for movies.

“People will walk to get their movies,” Svein said. He added that Coveland and Madrona Way were in pretty good shape Thursday afternoon.

Just up the road from downtown, the Coupeville Liquor Store is also open and hasn’t seen much of a drop-off in business.

Manager Pam Smith said that Wednesday was an average day for her but Thursday was a bit slower.

In Oak Harbor, a few shoppers were out wandering the streets in downtown Oak Harbor late Thursday afternoon.

Peggy Timmins stopped by Mr. Music to pick up some music for her oboe and then it was off to the Wind and Tide Bookstore for some more shopping.

Some businesses had trouble opening while it was snowing. Sherri Vaughn, owner of the Candy Bouquet on Pioneer Way, said she wasn’t able to open on Wednesday and came in a little late Thursday.

Just down the block from the Candy Bouquet, the Bay City Bistro was open. Co-owner Dave Hand said that he lost reservations but is having some walk- in business. Also on the positive side, he said he has some Christmas parties scheduled in the coming days.

Several businesses in the Old Town Mall, such as Island Cafe and the Jewelry Gallery, were also open this week despite the snow and ice.

Gloria Carothers, Jewelry Gallery owner, said Thursday was a very good day for sales. She credited the regular customers she has accumulated from being in business for 17 years as the reason for a good holiday season.

Likewise, Whidbey Beers is also seeing traffic come through the doors. Co-owner Greg Hampton said Wednesday was busier than average.

“A lot of people got off early and swung by,” Hampton said.

The snow pretty much subsided Thursday and the temperature dropped Friday morning. Forecasts call for more snow Saturday and Sunday while the temperatures look to climb above freezing in the coming days.

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