Downtown merchants weather the storm

By and


February 10, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Stephanie McDonald snipped thorns from the stems of red roses at Duane’s Flowers, 5 N. Jefferson, Wednesday morning.
There wasn’t much else to do, with the second siege of winter keeping most shoppers at home. But, said Christina DeLaTorre, who helps manage the shop, having time to work on the flowers, a staple for Valentine’s Day bouquets, was welcome.
“We have 1,800 roses to get ready,” said DeLaTorre, which includes trimming the stems so a loved one doesn’t get a mixed message.
“We usually don’t have people coming in to order Valentine’s flowers until a day or two before, sometimes Valentine’s Day morning,” DeLaTorre observed of human nature.
The weather-imposed “break” also posed complications.
“We had a funeral scheduled for today (Wednesday) and it was postponed to Monday, which means we’ll have to redo all the flowers,” she said.
Kelly Spears at Diamond Daisy, 1 E. Madison Ave., also has a big red circle drawn around Monday on her calendar.
“It’s a big day for us,” she said late Wednesday morning.
To promote her shop and its offerings for Valentine’s Day, Spears gave out coupons during the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce Business EXPO and has a Facebook contest going on.
“We have several posts already in our Facebook contest, ‘Whose sweety is the sweetest,’” said Spears.
Respondents are asked to vote on which person’s tribute to a loved one is best. The winner will get a dozen roses and a box of chocolates. A half dozen roses and chocolates go to the second place post.
While downtown was in the grip of a second foot of snow Wednesday, Spears said she didn’t want to close her shop, as she did a week ago.
“It’s too close to Valentine’s Day,” she said, and noted that its location, at the corner of Madison and South streets nearly a year now, was much more visible than the previous one in a residential area on East Lincoln Avenue. 

RON MOORE counted three customers who ventured into Iola Office Supplies, 4 S. Washington Ave., by midday Wednesday.
“About the only people who come out on days like today are the ones who absolutely have to,” Moore said. “We had a couple of people drop off UPS packages.”
Iola Office Supplies is an official pick-up and drop-off location for United Parcel Service couriers.
Unlike the winter storm a week earlier, Moore kept the store open this time around. Those who didn’t venture out Tuesday or Wednesday are certain to be out today and Friday, Moore said.
“They still need their ink,” he said.
Without the steady flow of customers, Moore busied himself in other ways: Cleaning, paperwork, doing inventory.
“There’s always something to do,” he said.
Elizabeth Donnelly, owner of The Shirt Shop, 20 W. Jackson Ave., was greeted at her front door by a pair of customers waiting for her to open Wednesday.
“I was surprised by the number of people who came in,” she said.
Like Moore, Donnelly figured she would remain occupied with paperwork and other tasks, but she gladly put those on the back-burner in favor of visiting with customers.
Two of her employees live out of town. She directed them to stay home Wednesday, in part because they were able to catch up on shirt orders in the days leading up to the storm.
“There was no sense in making them risk coming in,” Donnelly said.

“EVERYONE needs boots in this kind of weather,” said Glenn Coffield, at Town and Country, 17 E. Madison Ave.
“We sold out last week, ordered more, which got here Tuesday, and we’ve sold anther 10 pairs,” before noon Wednesday, said Coffield. “We have rubber boots and insulated ones made by Red Wing and Wolverine, which are very popular.
“We also have a good selection of Carhartt and Polar King jackets, as well as insulated coveralls,” he said. “And they’re all on sale.”
Linda Sigg would have opted for the warm confines of her home Wednesday had she not been committed to two good-sized orders prepared by her and her crew at Party Girls, 7 E. Madison Ave.
“I had cupcakes to deliver at 10 a.m. and more stuff in the afternoon,” she said.
Sigg said several varieties of soup and their cinnamon rolls have been in big demand this cold spell.
As for other things available at the shop, purses, scarves and baby hats, as well as kitchen utensils, are much sought by shoppers, she said, and “jewelry is a big seller for us for Valentine’s Day presents.”
Michelle Luttrell closed her Brooklyn Park Flea Market, 3 N. Jefferson Ave., all or part of three days last week when a more intense blizzard made getting about town an ordeal.
“But, we made up for it over the weekend,” Luttrell said. “The weather was nicer and everyone was wanting to get out.
“We have a nice variety of things in our booths and prices are reasonable,” she said. “We have a lot of  out-of-town customers, many of them repeat buyers, and dealers who come regularly.”
Luttrell said the store’s inventory would expand when those who rent booths were able to “dig out things they have stored. Everyone is eager for spring to get here.”

SUSAN CLEAVER, a stylist at Town Square Tannery and Salon, 11 W. Madison Ave., saw the good and bad of the winter storm.
“It’s killed our tanning business,” she said. “People just aren’t coming in for that.”
Still, her schedule was filled from start to finish Wednesday and today with haircuts, colorings, permanents and other hair styling sessions.
“Business is usually slow around the holidays, but it picks up around now,” she said.
Her busy schedule this week also may be a byproduct of being closed two days for last week’s storm.
The storm put a brief damper on business at Ulrich Furniture, 12 N. Washington Ave., but owner Gordon Ulrich is optimistic with warmer days in the forecast, and particularly because of his Valentine’s Day sale.
Ulrich is offering mattresses as low as $199, recliners at a 50 percent discount and other furniture on sale. Ulrich noted that no sales tax will be assessed on cash sales, another enticement to get customers into his door as the temperature rises.
“The storm slowed us down,” he said, “but we’re ready to go now.”

SHERRY HART shoveled snow from in front of Classy Attic, 15 E. Madison Ave., early Wednesday before taking a break.
“The weather isn’t good for business,” Hart said, “but you can’t fight Mother Nature.”
She felt it necessary to open Wednesday, even with the latest snow, because Valentine’s Day is drawing near.
“We’re selling quite a few Willow Tree figurines and candles,” Hart said, “and I wanted to be here today for my customers.”
Debbie Suchy at The Treasure Chest, 7 S. Jefferson, said customers who wind their ways through booths in her flea market were “looking for things they need more than collectibles. They’re buying clothing, shoes and boots, and we have a good selection.”
The store is open seven days a week and when it closed last Tuesday and Wednesday, that was a rarity.
“In the 26 years we’re been here, first as a consignment shop and now as a flea market, we’ve hardly ever been closed for one day much less two,” Suchy said.
Employees at Flynn Appliance and Hi-Def Center, 11 N. Jefferson Ave., didn’t have time to lollygag around Wednesday. Service calls came in early and a family in Kincaid, whose refrigerator went on the fritz, put in an emergency order.
“They told us if we could get the refrigerator to the door of their house, they’d get it inside,” said Thurman Flynn, who dispatched a truck soon after opening his store.
This time of year always is a good time for appliance sales, he added, particularly with those to do with laundry.
“People get their income tax refunds and they decide to replace a washer or dryer that they’ve been struggling with for some time,” Flynn said. “It’s happening this year just like it always does,” pointing to a good selection of both he has on hand.

January 9, 2018
February 15, 2017
February 14, 2012
February 13, 2010