OCEAN CITY — Local businesses hope that the worst of the winter weather is behind them, but as they patiently await the big thaw, many see a good spring in the forecast.
The resort may have been snowed in for the better part of the last three weeks, but many are banking on the thaw to bring people yearning for a cure to the unusual case of cabin fever that has seemingly struck the coast, out of the proverbial woodwork, out of their homes and into local establishments.
“I can’t honestly remember a time when we’ve had three storms this big right in a row,” said K Coast Surf Shop co-owner Mark Pugh. “Obviously, the weather has hurt us a bit, but I really think that Ocean City, especially since we are a drive to destination, has the potential to do really well once this weather clears up. Everyone is itching to get out of the house already, and I think people will be ready to get out there and spend some money.”
Pugh’s theory mirrors what many in the local sales community are hoping for as the majority of businesses, like restaurants and hotels, have seen a steep decline in their already meager winter sales totals as three storms have ravaged the shore.
For other businesses, like local grocery and hardware stores, they have been trying to keep up with the increased demands and their delayed supplies due to the weather.
“We are having a rough time keeping snow shovels and rock salt on the shelves as our shipments have been getting delayed or cancelled since they are coming from up north,” said Richard Holland of The Adkins Company. “We got a shipments of shovels in last Wednesday and we were sold out in three hours, and we don’t expect to have any till the end of the week.”
Keeping up with the demand for those items as well as essential household items has been another tumultuous task for local grocery stores, which have seen long lines, and empty shelves where items like milk, eggs, and bread used to be.
“We are doing okay as far as keeping the shelves stocked, but we have had some deliveries that have been delayed from up north,” said Steve Noulis, assistant manager of Superfresh in West Ocean City. “When you can’t get the deliveries here, it’s tough to keep up with the demand.”
The majority of local grocery stores deferred to their corporate offices when asked to comment about the effect of the winter storms on their business, and most of those corporate entities simply stress the stores’ dedication to customer service and product availability.
“We have implemented our inclement weather procedures to ensure that our customers have access to all of the products they need to prepare for these winter storms,” said Christy Brown-Phillips, Director of External Communications for Food Lion.
Local beer, wine and liquor stores, on the other hand, have generally seen a bit of an increase in sales over the course of the last few weeks, but the owners of those stores say the increase is “nothing to write home about”.
“It hasn’t been too crazy, but there has certainly been a bit of a rise in sales,” said Jay Abell, assistant manager of the Wine Rack in Ocean City. “In this area, people certainly do stock up on their alcohol when there is a big storm, but I’m not sure if you can attribute it all to the weather since the Super Bowl was last weekend, too.”
Chris Denny, owner of Cheers in Berlin, said whatever jumps in sales he’s seen leading up to the storms in the last few weeks have simply made up for the loss of business in the days that follow the storms.
“It’s just like Christmas Eve, when you do a bunch of business then you are closed for the next day and probably don’t do much the day after that,” said Denny. “Sure, we saw a small spike, but you know when you have a good day before a storm, you know the next day might stink, so it all kind of evens out.”
Pugh thinks that once the sun comes out and the snow melts, consumers will be primed and ready to get out of the house, and venture off to somewhere that reminds them of summer.
“I think we could be in a good position come spring time in Ocean City, but we’ll have to see what the weather has in store for us,” he said.