Snow days affecting bottom line for Hants County businesses

Published on February 14, 2017

Home Hardware saved Valentine's Day in Middleton this year. Sabrina Tapp of Valley Rose flower shop faced a mountain of snow when she arrived at work this morning, one of the busiest days of the year for a florist. But some neighbours soon came to the rescue from Home Hardware just across the street. Anne Callanan, Joan Penny, and Emily Shorey brought shovels from the hardware store and helped clear an eight-foot path through the four-foot-deep snow to the flower shop's door. Not only that, the Home Hardware staff dug out some spray calk and painted open signs, hearts, and flowers in the snow banks so people would know Middleton was open for business after Monday's snow storm. Customers driving by couldn't tell if businesses were open because of the mountains of snow.

©Lawrence Powell

WINDSOR, N.S. - Snow days are a welcome break for students, who often get to play a few more hours of their favourite video game while at home.

However, local business owners are looking at the mountains of snow and thinking about their bottom line.

Heather Donohue, co-owner of Moe’s Place Music School and chair of the Windsor Business Enhancement Society, said she had to close her business for three days, Feb. 10, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, due to the weather.

“That's an average of 30 students a day, so the impact is quite substantial on the teachers as well as the business,” Donohue said.

Donohue said a lot of business owners use snow days to work 'on' the business instead of 'in' the business.

“It's Nova Scotia in winter so we can plan ahead,” she said.

Sidewalks and the roads are still being cleared in parts of Windsor while another snowstorm is already on its way for Feb. 16.

Emergency supplies in demand

Dena Miller, owner of the Hantsport Home Hardware Building Centre, said they had to close during the blizzard on Feb. 13, but on Feb. 14, customers were back, buying salt, sand and shovels in large quantities.

“We closed because of the inability to get here easily and we didn’t figure others were on the roads, employees or customers,” Miller said. “It’s slow going now for people getting out, but as the day progresses, there’s more people getting out with another storm on its way.”

Miller said they’ve been sold out of snowblowers for a week and likely won’t get more except for special orders.

“It gives a negative impact during the day it hits because we have to close,” she said. “Sometimes the major storms or power outages can boost sales after the fact with snow removal aids or items like batteries and flash lights.”

Miller said while sales of emergency supplies rise, sales for regular items, like paint and building supplies, usually go down.

Snow sports see benefit

Not everyone is angry at mother nature.

Andy MacLean, the manager of Ski Martock, said the extra powder is coming in handy after a relatively snow-less January.

“I’m super stoked,” MacLean said. “It just puts snowboarding and skiing at top of minds. Now people are thinking about winter sports.”

MacLean said they were closed on Feb. 13 because of the blizzard in order to keep customers and staff safe.

On Feb. 14, they opened at 9 a.m. sharp.

“The conditions are amazing with natural snow,” he said. “It’s soft, it grooms in nicely, there’s nothing better than mother nature – it’s unbeatable.”

Martock has been relying heavily on man-made snow through the early part of the season.

It’s not just the ski hills that benefit. MacLean said the cross-country trails look “magical” with fresh powder.