Local Businesses See Varied Response To Storm


Locally-owned businesses say they’re seeing mixed reaction from customers as a result of the recent winter storm.

Common Ground Food Co-op General Manager Jacqueline Hannah said the forecast brought out the second largest sales day in their history. 

She said the co-op was ‘cleaned out’ in many areas, including local milk, and a lot of wine was sold as well just before the snow and heavy winds arrived.

"So I guess people knew they were going to be trapped, and wanted to make sure they weren't going to be without their wine," she said. "But in general, I mean every aisle was a lot more depleted than expected, we weathered it okay, it was one of the busiest days of the year, which is not expected for a Saturday in January."

Common Ground also had to close for about a day and a half due to the storm.  Hannah said the big Saturday sales 'are probably going to come out a wash' when comparing business to when the storm hit Sunday and Monday.

Merry Ann’s Diner owner Tony Pomonis said as the snow began to fall on Sunday, it was a bit of a ‘ghost town’ around all three Champaign-Urbana locations.

But he said once snow plows came through, a lot of patrons came in, particularly downtown, even if that required picking up some staff on eight seperate occasions who were unable to drive themselves

"We've been open every single day for just over 30 years, and I wasn't going to break that streak, or that record, on this occasion," he said.  "If it had been more snow accumulation, I think we would had to take a very careful look at things."

Things have been very different at Sam’s Café in downtown Champaign, which was closed on Monday.  Owner Sam Issa said the winter weather has made things so slow there, one of his customers even shoveled off the sidewalk after plows came through, blocking the area.

"So he decided he'd get his snow shovel and his spate, and go ahead and make a little opening in the snow," he said.  "He went ahead and did it, then he had one more hole to do, to make sure he did the whole sidewalk here on Walnut (Street.)  And his (parking) meter ran out.  And believe it or not, (the city) gave him a ticket."

Issa took care of the ticket.  He said things had picked up a little, with about 10 people eating there late Tuesday morning.

Story source: WILL