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Cold weather aids local businesses

January 29, 2003|by ASHLEY GORDON

ashleyg@herald-mail.com

The cold weather may be unpleasant, but it does have benefits, according to those who work for some local businesses that cater to cold weather needs.

Judy Loiseau-Myers, owner of the Blue Moon Caf in Williamsport, said that a lot of new and regular customers go to the store during the winter for hot beverages and snacks.

"They come in to get out of the cold air," Loiseau-Myers said.

Valley Mall Marketing Director Julie Simmons said that October through January are the highest traffic months at the mall.

In December, an average of 45,000 to 60,000 people enter the mall on weekdays, and the weekend number is higher, Simmons said.

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Barbara Tritle, co-owner of Bikle's Ski and Outdoor Shop in Hagerstown, said business has been remarkably good this year.

Tritle said last winter's milder temperatures were not good for business, but this year's snowy weather has business booming.

The ski shop does get business in the summer and other seasons because it sells climbing gear, camping equipment and skateboards, but the best season is winter, Tritle said.

Lisa Gonzales, marketing director for Prime Outlets in Hagerstown, said general mall traffic stays the same during the winter months and has increased since the holidays. Gonzales attributed that to the monthly winter sidewalk sales advertised through postcards and e-mail to frequent shoppers.

It is not surprising that the electric company would benefit from people cranking up their heat, Allegheny Energy spokesman Guy Fletcher said.

Fletcher said that in the summer and the winter, the demand for energy goes up. As temperatures go to either extreme, people use more electricity to compensate.

Allen Staggers, another spokesman for Allegheny Energy, said that there has been a dramatic increase in the use of electricity.

On Jan. 23, Allegheny Energy hit an all-time record in peak electricity usage, Staggers said.

Staggers said the new record is 8,437 megawatts sold, which beats the previous record of 8,301 megawatts on July 2, 2002.

Last winter, the peak was 7,791 during January. Each winter, energy usage increases by 1.4 percent in comparison to the previous winter, Staggers said.

The cold weather has benefits for law enforcement as well.

Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades said there are fewer criminal calls in the winter. A criminal call was defined by Mades as a report of theft, vandalism, drug traffic or any other violence outside the home.

On Jan. 24, Mades reported no criminal calls.

However, Mades said there are more domestic calls, which he defined as disputes inside the home between residents.

In the winter there are more reports of domestic disputes, broken-down cars, people who need to be checked on and alarms going off accidentally, Mades said.

"Probably the drug dealers aren't outside selling because it's too cold," Mades said. "Unfortunately, this also means that the addict who can't get his fix is irritable and could take it out on his wife at home."

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