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Winter’s fury and local business

Merchants talk about the good and the not-so-good

PRINCETON — The snowy weather and frigid temperatures haven’t seemed to budge this winter, which has left many local business owners facing just as bitter hardships with fewer customers and forced closures due to weather conditions.

Jyl Morse, co-owner of Hoffman’s Patterns of the Past in downtown Princeton, said looking out and seeing no cars out on the street has been rough.

“Thank goodness for the few customers we have had and our online sales,” she said. “We’ve still been able to ship out quite a bit.”

The positive factor, however, is the slow business has allowed her employees to transition the store’s winter decor into spring.

“We have the heat turned up in here. Come and use it,” Morse said. “You can come find spring in here; you won’t find it out there.”

For Janice Woodford, owner of The Feed Store and Watering Hole in Malden, winter weather has never affected business this much.

“It’s been rough. I’ve been in business over 20 years, and it’s never been like this,” she said. “The biggest hit is all the snowstorms have come on weekends, when it’s normally our busy time.”

And when the roads are cleared, the subzero temperatures seem to still keep customers tucked away in their homes. The pattern has forced the restaurant to close its doors early a few times with the lack of business.

“Over the years we’ve had to close for weather, but never this much,” she said.

The cold weather, however, hasn’t blown business for everyone.

Le Soleil Tanning Salon owner Robyn Washer of Princeton was happy to announce the cold temps have actually stepped up business. While January and February tend to normally be a busy time for the salon, Washer said she has seen even more business with people just wanting to get in, warm up and escape the frigid cold.

“I’ve had at least six new tanners in the last two weeks, even,” she said. “Customers come in and warm up in the tanning beds, and we offer them a free cup of coffee. It’s a great place to warm up.”

Manager Kim Teegardin at Casey’s General Store in Spring Valley said when it snows, the store gets busier. Casey’s has also been one of the few area gas stations that have stayed open, no matter what the conditions have been.

“When cars get stranded, they come in here and get warmed up. We’ve seen a lot of people do that, even emergency crews,” Teegardin said. “People just know we never close, and they can be in here.”

She said the store even seems to have trouble keeping bread, milk and other regular staple items on the shelves when the bad weather blows in.

“We keep our pizza deliveries going too,” she said. “I think there’s only been two times when we haven’t been able to get out there.”

And at Amma’s Studio, designer Dixie Reed, mentioned one thing that’s helped business this winter is the new Flour House Bakery and coffee shop, located in the north portion of downtown Princeton.

“We’re loving the new coffee shop. People go over there to get a warm cup of coffee, and then do their shopping over here while they’re out and about,’ she said.

While business typically tends to be a little slower around this time of year, Reed said they’re finding customers are still out and about and looking forward to spring merchandise.

“They’re just in good spirits and understanding that we living in Illinois, where we get quite a bit of snow,” she said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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