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Storm A Mixed Blessing For Rutland Businesses

While most children in the state are enjoying a snow day Friday after yesterday's storm blanketed the state, heavy accumulations meant business owners spent much of the morning just getting to work and digging out.

Pittsford resident Larry McDuff fired up his snow blower at 5:30 a.m. 

"We're doing the neighbors and everybody around who we can help out," McDuff reported. "Everybody's snowed in. We got about 15 inches of snow up here."

But many who motored slowly into work today found their office or business just as snowed in.

"It absolutely destroys our ability to deliver, but we'll be out as soon as the sun comes out at noon." - Bonnie Hawley, florist

In Rutland, Donny Cram was busying shoveling 13 inches of snow off the sidewalks at Wendy’s, while a plow truck was clearing the parking lot. “I think we’re going to be dead,” he said as he leaned on his shovel. “We’re only opening one sandwich station today.”

A couple blocks away at Hawley’s Florist, however, it was anything but dead.  The phone hadn’t stopped ringing and owner Bonnie Hawley said five of her 11 delivery drivers couldn’t make it in. “It’s our biggest holiday of the year and we do about a month’s work in two days,” she said.

Hawley says she ordered 3,000 roses and hundreds of other flowers, which were all packed into four coolers in her basement. Many were supposed to be delivered to area businesses that were closed due to the weather.

"Now people are calling and we have to change where the deliveries have to go," Hawley said. "[For people] who live in outlying areas, those [deliveries] will go tomorrow. We're just dealing with the storm as best we can."

When asked how the storm was impacting her business, she shook her head and laughed, “You don’t want my comments. It absolutely destroys our ability to deliver, but we’ll be out as soon as the sun comes out at noon!” 

Hawley thinks the storm will probably cost her about 20 percent of her Valentine’s Day business.  

"The Vermont economy in general is really driven by snow. So a good snowstorm here or there ... really gives a shot in the arm to the rest of the state." - Adam Webster, snowmobile retailer

"I don't think people understand that for us, Valentine's Day takes care of January, when there's no business, March ... and February. So it covers about a quarter of the year [and] has to pay all those expenses," Hawley said. "But we had a good day yesterday because we got everything out of here that we could possibly get out of here. So, we'll see. Phones are ringing."

And it’s not just florists feeling the pain. Valentine’s Day is also one of the busiest nights for bars and restaurants and they too will likely take a hit.

But not everyone was bemoaning the snow. Across town at Central Vermont Motorcycles, one of the largest snowmobile retailers in the state, employees were all smiles. 

Aaron Webster says after a slow January, the fresh snow will definitely kick up their sales and service numbers. 

"It’s not just in the snowmobiling business," Webster said. "The Vermont economy in general is really driven by snow. So a good snowstorm here or there, one day of inconvenience, really gives a shot in the arm to the rest of the state."

With such a big storm and more snow in the forecast, Webster says it’ll not only boost business now, but help ensure a longer season for all winter activities and sports. 

One in five Vermonters is considered elderly. But what does being elderly even mean — and what do Vermonters need to know as they age? I’m looking into how aging in Vermont impacts living essentials such as jobs, health care and housing. And also how aging impacts the stuff of life: marriage, loss, dating and sex.
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