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Snow was boon for some firms, bust for others

March 10, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

For many, the Great Storm of 2003, which blitzed Hagerstown with 2 feet of snow and elsewhere with more, was better remembered than experienced.

Governments exceeded their snow removal budgets. Schools used many more snow days than they were allotted.

Feb. 17, the Monday of the big storm, was a lousy day for Bikle's Ski & Outdoor Shop in downtown Hagerstown. The store stayed closed.

During the ensuing days, customers "trying to keep warm" packed the store, looking for cold-weather gear and ski equipment, said Bill Clowser, the store's president.

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Snow is good for business, he said, but "it doesn't have to be crippling. Thirty-six inches is a bit much. Twenty-four inches is a bit much. But it's certainly better than nothing."

The snow was "definitely bad for business," said Maria Kritikos, owner of X-Press Tanning Studio and Day Spa on Dual Highway.

The store was closed Monday and Tuesday of that week, wiping out several appointments, she said.

Winter is supposed to be a busy time in the tanning world. People come in around late February and early March to ready themselves for, say, a trip to the Bahamas or to shake loose the blues, Kritikos said.

Rentals Unlimited in Hagerstown reported a steady stream of customers.

"They were renting backhoes and skid loaders," employee Jared Stottlemyer said.

There's no business like snow business - as long as someone can get there to open the shop.

Stottlemyer said two employees with four-wheel-drive vehicles persevered and made it to work after the biggest batch of snow had fallen.

For Hoffman Transport - a trucking company in Greencastle, Pa., that primarily hauls refrigerated goods - "it was terrible," said Lou Dennis, the driver personnel manager. "We had quite a few service failures."

Clients that did not receive deliveries were understanding, he said.

For some drivers who live "in the boonies," it took two or three days to clear their way out to get to work, Dennis said.

The highways wouldn't have been as bad for truckers if there were no other cars, he said.

It's reasonable to think a snowstorm would be a fine time to sell quilts, but "exactly the opposite" is true, said Mary Perini of The Cooper's Shed in Beaver Creek.

Her customers are "women old enough to have disposable income," she said. "They don't go out when it's bad weather."

The Cooper's Shed sells mostly vintage quilts, along with old linens and lace.

Perini said she usually closes the weekend before Christmas, then reopens the first week in March.

It was a mixed bag at Ready-Set-Go Tours & Travel, west of Hagerstown.

Several corporate customers were stranded in Baltimore or Washington, D.C., Owner and Manager Lindi Baker said.

Other patrons simply wanted to escape.

"Snow brings out people who want to get to a warmer climate," she said.

Cancun was a hot spot, particularly because Ready-Set-Go was able to book trips there with as little as one day's notice.

Some customers weren't picky.

"They just wanted tropical," Baker said.

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