Posted on

White Christmas was red for some Corydon retailers

There were heavier snowfalls in 1994 and 1998. The blizzard of 1978 was accompanied by a paralyzing cold spell. But none of those froze downtown Corydon retail like the snow storms that hit last-minute shoppers two weeks ago.
Those other snows fell in January and February.
Retailers across the nation count on a few days to make their year, like ‘Black Friday’ following Thanksgiving for general merchandisers, or the day before Mother’s Day in the greeting card business.
Shopkeepers at both Albin Jewelers and Pfeiffer Jewelers say Valentine’s Day has nothing on Christmas Eve in the jewelry business. And almost all retailers bank on a surge during the last few days leading up to Christmas.
Travel was already precarious when it was time to open shop the morning of Dec. 22. The blacktop had long since been hidden beneath a sheet of white.
Lisa Goffinet was running an increase over the previous holiday season at Reflections, but she knew that if she left her Crawford County home she might become snowbound in Corydon for the holidays.
Hannah Harrington was the only clerk at The Christmas Goose that day. When she left at 12:30 p.m., Crawford County had already been under a state of emergency for 90 minutes. Only official vehicles were to be on roads there. But in Corydon the storm lulled.
Then night fell and so did more snow. Lots more.
Harrison County had 15 to 20 inches by daybreak on Dec. 23. Crawford County ranged between 23 and 28 inches. The Louisville Metro area record is 21 inches set during the 1998 storm.
Reflections and others didn’t open again until after Christmas. The Christmas Goose and its neighbor, Town Square Gallery, reopened on Christmas Eve to salvage the gift-buying season.
Trish Feller, manager at the gallery, said Christmas Eve was stronger than usual despite treacherous secondary roads.
Overall, she said, sales were up, thanks to Dec. 24.
Harrington said her counters were similarly swamped.
Jewelers Jim LaDuke and Bud Pfeiffer never closed shop. Pfeiffer Jewelers was open at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 23 despite parking spaces that were untouched or filled with several feet of snow plowed from roadways.
(There was so much snow that finding what to do with it presented a difficulty. A skid loader was used to shovel some of the snow into dump trucks and remove it from downtown where access is crucial, like the courthouse and drug stores.)
‘You got to depend on December Christmas business to really make your year,’ LaDuke said. He likened the holiday to harvest time, but his was no bumper crop.
‘The last two days before Christmas you might do a month or two months’ worth of business. That’s the worst two days it could hit. Snow cost us about 25 percent of our business in December. I talked to other jewelers, and we are not alone,’ LaDuke said.
Right across the street, ‘It killed us,’ Pfeiffer said.
Neither jeweler expects to recover the loss through post-holiday sales.
Ozzie’s had a year of the highest highs and lowest lows. The boutique had its biggest night ever during Light Up Corydon, but after a fabulous start to the Christmas season, the snow closed up shop on Dec. 23 and 24, salesperson Zena Whittinghill said.
‘We’re looking forward to this year. After Christmas, we’ve done pretty good. We had a sale and moved most of our merchandise,’ she said.
This was the first and last Christmas for Doris VanCleave’s unassuming The Quilting Bee. She will be closing or selling the shop by the end of the month due to health reasons. She’s owned two previous, successful quilting businesses.
‘Business was okay, but it was hurt. I sold pretty much everything Christmassy that I had,’ she said.

LATEST NEWS