Snow causes heartbreak for candy shop counting on Valentine’s Day sales

SALISBURY — What was supposed to be one of the busiest weeks of the year for the Candy Shoppe on Main came to a snowy halt with the arrival of a winter storm that nearly paralyzed the city.

“The snow killed us,” co-owner Don Vick said. “It just killed us.”

The new candy shop closed Wednesday afternoon and remained closed Thursday, when Vick had expected to be selling the roughly $4,000 worth of Valentine’s Day candy, chocolate and novelties he ordered and paid for back in December.

Historically, most Valentine’s purchases ring up in the 48 to 72 hours before the big day, Vick said. He said he planned to open at 9 a.m. today, regardless of weather or road conditions, in hopes of salvaging at least some Valentine’s sales.

The National Retail Federation was already expecting spending to rise only slightly this Valentine’s Day, by an average of about 2 percent per person. According to a spending survey, the average person planned to spend $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts, dinner and more, up slightly from $130.97 last year. And that estimate did not factor in a snowstorm.

Despite at least 8 inches of snow that blanketed the city, Flower Town owner Tracy Day said her business on West Innes Street was open Thursday and delivering Valentine’s Day arrangements. The business planned to be open today as well.

“It’s definitely impacted us, but it’s not been as bad as it could have been,” Day said.

Sales are down compared to a normal Valentine’s week, but Day said she avoided closing her shop because she and an employee spent the night at another worker’s house in town, and a relative drove them to work in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Many people stopped by Thursday to pick up flowers, and the shop delayed deliveries to out-of-the-way locations until today, she said.

“It has been a really good success,” Day said. “People are kind and understanding.”

Thanks to four-wheel drive and social media, Sidewalk Deli had one of the restaurant’s best days on Thursday, owner Rick Anderson McCombs said.

A loyal customer posted on Facebook that Sidewalk Deli was open and encouraged anyone within walking distance to pull on a pair of boots and hoof it to the downtown eatery.

The post received more than 60 comments and likes. “We’ve had an extremely busy day,” McCombs said Thursday afternoon. “We’ve not had a day like this in quite a while.”

McCombs and his employee got a ride to work from a neighbor with four-wheel drive, who then stayed to lend a hand at the restaurant. McCombs estimated that 75 percent of his customers Thursday walked from one of the surrounding historic districts.

He planned to be open today as well.

“I’ve got 30 more pounds of rock salt,” McCombs said.

One of the only other downtown businesses open Thursday was Critters Cards & Gifts. Owner Bob Lambrecht said he walked to work.

Lambrecht was not concerned about losing Valentine’s week business and said he learned long ago not to carry merchandise specifically for Valentine’s Day. While sales were down, customers still came in throughout the day, he said.

“I have no control over Mother Nature, so you do what you’ve got to do,” Lambrecht said.

Vick said the candy store would make the best of a bad situation, saving dozens of foil-covered chocolate roses for Mother’s Day and marking down Valentine’s candy and novelties.

“We will take a loss on them,” he said.

Vick said he expected Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Easter to generate about 70 percent of his total annual sales volume.

“Christmas was very good for us, and we really expected Valentine’s would be amazing,” he said. “But as soon as the snow started, people stopped coming in.”

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