Somerville, MA, Feb. 24, 2015 – After weeks of immense back-to-back snowstorms, Somerville has now been hit with an unprecedented record of snowfall of over 95 inches, and that’s taking its toll on locally owned businesses.
Some local businesses say they have endured losses in revenue because of the weather that has resulted in limited mass transit, poor road conditions, parking problems, and clogged sidewalks.
“The people that come don’t buy as much as they normally do,” McKinnon’s Meat Market owner Jimmy Kontos told Somerville Neighborhood News (SNN). “It’s extremely difficult to carry bags for two or three blocks to your car, so they buy what they need for the day or a couple of days and as a result the volume goes down.”
Kontos said he’s worked in the business for fifty years, and that the last severe snowstorm he could remember was the blizzard of 1978. This season has been different because it wasn’t just one storm; it was “continuous,” he noted.
The lot behind his store in Davis Square, where many customers usually park, is rented by the city. And until recently, it was piled high with snow. Kontos said he felt it took the city too long to clean it.
“If there was any way they could remove some of the snow – and again, it’s too much snow in a short time, and I understand it’s difficult – [but] it would help matters, at least for us it would, and for everyone in the Square, for that matter,” he said.
In Union Square, Grace Salon has also faced challenges.
“It has affected our business,” receptionist Mamata Karmacharya told SNN. “It’s not working as it was before. It’s very slow; like 10 percent.
“Our clients are having problems with car parking and we have the same problem too, getting to our business,” she added.
Karmacharya says the salon has had many appointment cancellations. She described one client who recently took 45 minutes find a parking spot.
“Now you can see the snow outside looking like the Himalayan Mountains,” she noted. “When you go to your car, you can’t even see the half of it.”
Rachel Hazaert, a client at Grace Salon, normally schedules her appointments every six weeks. She’s already missed one because of the long commute.
“The snow has made it very difficult to walk around,” she said. “You constantly have to avoid snow banks; you have to walk on the street sometimes in order for you to get to your destination. It’s pretty unsafe right now and very inconvenient.”
Restaurants like Cantina La Mexicana have struggled to recuperate from the weekly storms, but Operations Manager Roberto Rendon Jr. said he thought the City was doing what it could.
“It’s just up to the people to be patient about it,” Rendon said. “As a business owner, I’d love to see more parking spaces available for our customers, [but] it is what it is because no one was expecting for us to be hit with multiple storms in such a short span of time.”
Somerville Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Mackey said he feels the City has done exceptional work clearing the roads.
“The feedback that I’ve received is that, compared to other communities, Somerville is doing, it seems, a better job,” he told SNN.
Mackey said he hoped businesses would bounce back as the snow melts.