Winter storms impact local businesses

by Sam Wilson
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Staff photo by Cole Dittmer 

Redix sales associate Roger Baker rings up University of North Carolina Wilmington student Julie Kiesel’s purchase on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Redix was forced to close a total of about four days due to the power outages and unsafe driving conditions caused by winter storm Pax.

Following a winter storm system that left Wrightsville Beach coated in about one-fourth of an inch of ice, some businesses reported an uptick in business during the otherwise dormant winter months.

“I feel like last week kind of helped us out because people wanted to get out of the house, but didn’t want to venture off the island,”  said Damon Scarpelli, the owner of Banks Channel Pub & Grille about winter storm Pax, which hit the region Feb. 11 and 12. “With the roads being bad, they just wanted to take advantage of a small community and just be able to walk around.”

He said it was a different story from the previous ice storm, when temperatures remained well below freezing for days and kept a sheet of ice over his parking lot.

“I would say I’ll keep a couple bags of salt on hand, paying that extra $20 or $30 to be able to get the sidewalk and not have to scramble when it does happen,” he added.

Jennifer Underwood works as the general manager for the Mellow Mushroom restaurants in Wrightsville Beach and on Oleander Drive, both of which she said saw a boost from power outages that left thousands of New Hanover County residents in the dark.

“We definitely saw an increase in business,” Underwood said. “I know Airlie Road lost power for a while, and people were just coming out whether they were driving, walking or riding their bikes, just to get out of their freezing house and get something hot to eat.”

Meanwhile, the Blockade Runner Resort also had an unseasonable boost as some locals took advantage of the low winter rates to escape the powerless inland portions of the county and surrounding area. Others were stranded by canceled flights.

“Unfortunately there were people that were planning to come in from places that got hit much harder than we did, like Raleigh and the mountains, and they weren’t able to make it,” said Whitney Spratt, the Blockade Runner’s director of sales. “But we had a fair amount of our guests already here that ended up staying through the storm, because they weren’t able to fly back.”

Gordon Reddick, however, has seen enough winter weather.

“It was negative, negative, negative,” said Reddick, the owner of beach retail store Redix. “We closed early one day, then closed two days and then we opened up later another day. All in all that’s about four days of closing, which of course you can ill afford this day and time.”

He said he sent employees home early to avoid accidents on the icy roads, which ended up staying clearer than they had been during the storm two weeks prior.

“There was a lot of damage between both storms,” Reddick said. “There were trees falling down, limbs all over the place, so people were occupied with other things, rather than out shopping for nonessentials.”



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