by Emily Vanneman
With the snowfall in Philadelphia reaching levels of 34 inches, Hill residents are beginning to wonder if this frigid maelstrom will ever let up. A record-breaking snowstorm, combined with below freezing temperatures, has everyone reaching for their wool coats and snowsuits in an attempt to fight the cold.
But the temperature is not the only drastic drop that has occurred on the Hill. Local Chestnut Hill businesses have seen a dip in sales since the beginning of the storm. While retail shops such as Mango and El Quetzal were prepared for the January slump, others were not.
“It’s sucked – we’re usually not too slow in January,” said Grey Heck, of Cake restaurant, the three-time Best-of-Philly winner from Philadelphia Magazine. “It’s been awful.”
Because of her clientele, Heck imagines that the dip is most likely a result of the difficult driving conditions over the past week.
Even retail businesses that typically expect a seasonal sales dip in January were surprised by the sharp decline in customers.
“Business has been basically non-existent – bad with all capitals,” said Tara Alexander, co-owner of Mango boutique. “It’s always quiet in Chestnut Hill in January and February.
“The cold changes everyone’s psyche. They just want to go home and get warm.”
She added that she was considering not attending a music show that she had planned for the night because of the snappy temperatures.
Brian Reisman, owner of Hide Away Music, had similar comments regarding his own business.
“I do think it’s had a significant effect,” Reisman said. “Why would anyone want to walk outside?”
Reisman said his shop closed early on Tuesday because of the heavy snowfall.
Other popular Chestnut Hill boutiques, such as El Quetzal, have been put in similar binds by this winter’s weather.
Despite the cold weather, the Chestnut Hill Business Association and local community members have been working together to encourage residents to visit their favorite stops.
“Weather is one thing we can never control,” said Martha Sharkey, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business Association.
“We have so many business owners who have creative ideas to get customers to come out to their stores,” she said.
One of these “creative ideas” was the “snow day specials” at local restaurants. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Green Soul and Campbell’s Place offered special deals on their most popular meals.
Green Soul served a complimentary country sweet potato, wild rice or veggie soup with the purchase of a full size sandwich, wrap or salad. Campbell’s Place also offered similar deals, such as half-priced mussels.
“Community members moved their cars off Germantown Avenue in order for the street to get plowed,” Sharkey said, adding that the community came together to make the snow cleanup as easy as possible.
The Parking Foundation also made sure all of its neighborhood parking lots were clear of snow and ready for cars on Wednesday morning.
Sharkey called attention to the power of social media in helping community members to become aware of new activities and specials in Chestnut Hill. The Chestnut Hill Facebook page is one such social-media site that has attracted attention from the Philadelphia community.