By James Cullum
The snowstorm is gone but not forgotten. For Alexandria retailers, the weekend before Christmas is an important time to make up for a difficult year. But starting last Friday evening, the worst snowstorm in years descended on the region. On Saturday morning, unplowed roads kept many indoors and people were advised by public transportation officials to stay home unless there was a dire family emergency.
“We were closed on Saturday. It’s usually one of our biggest days of the year. We usually close at midnight,” said Maggie Bowman, general manager of Why Not? in Old Town. The store will have a 25% off clothing sale that begins the day after Christmas. “On Sunday, those of us who could walk to work showed up and it was packed. On the whole, we’re still doing better than last year.”
Even though Mai Thai delivers, the restaurant had terrible business. Located at 6 King Street, Mai Thai only received about 20 calls for delivery on Sunday, said manager Burin Chaturaprasert. “It was bad,” he said. “We were closed Saturday and open Sunday. Delivery was hard because of the roads.”
Some business was booming. On Friday, MOM’s Organic Market beat a company record for best day ever. “Friday was a record day for us,” said assistant general manager Nick Hardee. Big sellers included baking goods, milk, produce and bottled water. “We order things on a daily basis so we can gauge it. We were stocked up and prepared for the weekend,” Hardee said.
The Hardware Store, 2003 Mount Vernon Avenue, sold every shovel in stock. “We’re wore out,” said owner Christian Harvey. “We were open through the entire storm. All I can tell you is that everything is gone, even the garden shovels. It was all gone by Friday, which was the killer day. All of our ice melt, salt, everything. We even had employees driving to other stores to buy ice melt because we had promised it to customers. It was nowhere to be found. We had people coming to the store from Woodbridge.”
Christine and Larry Ponzi own Pizzaiolo Cafe and Bar, 3112 Mount Vernon Avenue. “We actually cancelled our deliveries because we couldn’t get our drivers out to make those deliveries. But we ended up having a decent weekend at all three locations. Larry spent all Sunday morning picking up staffers at their houses and driving them to work,” Christine said.
Many businesses used the slow weekend to update their facebook and Twitter pages.
Red Barn Mercantile, 113 South Colombus Street, is a member of the Old Town Boutique District. On Twitter, the store announced 25% off all merchandise and increased store hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. “It looks like all our dreams of a White Christmas have come true, but what about the nightmare of last minute shopping? Because snow kept us closed and most of you indoors Saturday, Red Barn Mercantile will be staying open until 8 p.m. Sunday thru Wednesday to accommodate everyone who had planned to wrap up their shopping this weekend,” the tweet said.
On Saturday, at 7:52 a.m., Treat, a sample sale boutique on St. Asaph Street, made customers an offer on Twitter: “Yes we are open today! If you can make your way to Treat from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. we are offering an extra 25% off all purchases.”