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Winter Weather Socks Mass. Retailers, But Some See Dollar Signs In Snowflakes02:36
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Will Chapman, of Oakland, Calif., digs out his car from between snow piles near the house he was visiting in Somerville, Mass., Tuesday. The latest snowstorm left the Boston area with another two feet of snow, and while many businesses closed for the weather, stores selling winter equipment are staying open for a steady influx of customers. (Josh Reynolds/AP)
Will Chapman, of Oakland, Calif., digs out his car from between snow piles near the house he was visiting in Somerville, Mass., Tuesday. The latest snowstorm left the Boston area with another two feet of snow, and while many businesses closed for the weather, stores selling winter equipment are staying open for a steady influx of customers. (Josh Reynolds/AP)
This article is more than 5 years old.

The heavy winter weather is putting a chill on retailers.

With people snowed in instead of going out, stores are losing $10 million per day, according to an estimate from the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. Some businesses, however, are finding opportunity in each fresh blanket of snow.

People like Ross Coleman are the reason why many stores have been closing early or altogether during heavy snow days.

"I haven’t been going nowhere," Coleman said. "No parking, nowhere, scared you might get stuck in the snow. So I’ve been staying home."

Melissa Anello, left, and Ali Bogdan dig out Bogdan’s car on I St. in South Boston a couple weeks ago. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Melissa Anello, left, and Ali Bogdan dig out Bogdan’s car on I St. in South Boston a couple weeks ago. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Coleman, like many others, hasn't been staying home all the time, though.

Recently, he was at the Ace Hardware City store in Jamaica Plain, buying snow shovels.

"My first one broke. So I had to pick up another one. So I picked up two just in case," he said, laughing.

Assistant manager Lionel Wilson said people like Coleman are making this a great week.

"We're doing great, we’re selling a lot of sleds," Wilson said. "We’re selling a lot of rock salt and ice melter, and shovels and roof rakes — it’s just flying off the shelf."

It’s more than seeing dollars in snowflakes. Wilson said it’s really about being there for your customers when they need you. He’s been going to great lengths to keep the store stocked for loyal customers.

"I have snow blowers coming from El Paso, Texas," he said. "I have ice melter coming from Minnesota, wherever I can get it from, I have it delivered. Sometimes it affects the price, but it’s worth it if nobody else has it."

"We’re selling a lot of rock salt and ice melter, and shovels and roof rakes -- it’s just flying off the shelf."

Lionel Wilson, assistant manager at Ace Hardware City in Jamaica Plain.

Another place a few doors down on Centre Street has also found a way to differentiate. When other places closed, this pizza joint stayed open.

"Tough for the customers with all the slippiness outside, if that’s even a word," said Kalev Hillel, a supervisor at Same Old Place.

Same Old Place is trying to turn that slippiness into stickiness — new customers who will come back again. Hillel said that during the storms, many people tried the restaurant for the first time.

"We actually had to shut down some of the Internet delivery service and stagger our deliveries, because we had more than we could handle," Hillel said.

Over in Cambridge, at 1369 Coffee House, manager Evan Fox has been seeing plenty of new faces coming in with everyone out of their routine.

"It's an opportunity for sure," Fox said.

Even so, Fox misses the line out the door in the morning.

"We’re here. We’re having a good time, you know," he said. "It’s definitely better than having an empty store every day."

While Fox is making the most of it, he and other retailers hope their stores won’t have to go without their regular business for much longer.

This segment aired on February 11, 2015.

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Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.

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