Winthrop Businesses Weathering the Storms

Thursday, February 26, 2015
By Transcript Staff

WINTHROP – This winter has been a challenge for all of us, especially local business owners who rely on a steady stream of customers to balance the books.

For Ann Vasquez, owner of the La Siesta Mexican restaurant on Woodside Avenue, she is grateful for the customers who have made it her way. But she admits business is down. She says the snow on Valentine’s Day resulted in numerous cancelled reservations. Even Gov. Charlie Baker’s proclamation for a Valentine’s week didn’t make much of a dent.

“There is no parking. The public lot near us is half its size right now,” she said, adding that sidewalks aren’t shoveled and people are walking in the street. She’s been in business for eight years and can seat 99 guests. She’s also concerned about the 32 people she employs. While some only work one day a week for her she knows that one day can make a difference.

Vasquez knows too that a lot of people are just plain weary.

“That makes things even more difficult,” she said.

She is very much looking forward to spring with Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduations.

But for business owners like Dr. Paul MaGee, a chiropractor in Winthrop on Crest Avenue for the last 10 years, business has been good. He’s seen people with neck, back, shoulder, elbows and foot problems. He’s also worked a lot on snowplow drivers who are fighting fatigue, stiffness and soreness. His advice for snow shovelers is to be careful. Bend at the knees when lifting the shovel. Reduce the weight of the shovel by lifting half the snow. Get close to the snow pile, don’t reach out and don’t rush.

Marc Wallace, owner of Winthrop Marketplace on Revere Street, says business has been good but the last two to three weeks have been a challenge. Parking is at a premium. Walking customers are having a hard time on sidewalks and in the street. In addition, Wallace has had to deal with burst pipes.

“It’s all psychological,” Wallace said.

Tom Hanard, of Webster First Credit Union, said his business was closed five Mondays in a row and the employees were paid for it.

“We paid because we called it off,” Hanard said.

He expects that in the spring business will pick up. People will be looking for home equity loans. Some will tap into savings to do repairs.

“It puts a lot of stress on people’s wallets,” he said.

Christine Millerick, an adjuster with Elliot Whittier Insurance on Revere Street and in Danvers, business has been steady. Homeowners are battling ice dams and car owners are being challenged with high snow banks. The company website www.elliotwhittier.com has information about ice dams and how to deal with them.

“Clear the snow loads (from your home). For ice dams you can fill pantyhose with calcium chloride,” she explained. Throw the panty house on the ice dam so it creates a channel to drain.

One business owner who is very happy is Paul Leavy of Woodside ACE TruValue. He’s been selling snow rakes, thousands of pounds of ice melt, 2,000 shovels and he ran out of snowblowers. His 24 employees have been working all but one snowy Sunday. Shirley Hardware has been just as busy. Leavy said he’s been working from 5 a.m. to midnight. He is mostly on his computer looking for supplies. Once he finds something he has to act fast or its gone.

“The staff’s been working on snow removal and on unloading trucks,” Leavy said.

“It’s an incredible challenge for everyone,” said Betsy Shane, executive director of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce.”

She added that contractors are out straight clearing roofs. Plumbers and electricians have also been busy.

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