01/30/10 — Snow Day - Some business open despite the weather

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Snow Day - Some business open despite the weather

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on January 30, 2010 11:30 PM

While many people hunkered down in their homes Saturday to avoid the snow and ice, some Goldsboro businesses opened their doors for the customers who ventured out despite the winter storm warning.

Among the first to open was Mickey's Pastry Shop on Graves Drive.

Melanie Daniels said when her dad, owner Jerry Ray, went in Saturday about 4 a.m. to make dough, conditions were good.

"He said it looked like it had been raining," she said. "I don't think he was expecting anything to happen."

By 5 a.m., however, the landscape was starting to whiten as she came in. Still, they decided to open.

"We're hardcore. We're pretty serious. It takes a lot for us not to unlock the doors," she said about 10 a.m. "Are we going to have any business? No, but we'll be here a while longer. We've got some birthday cakes people are coming to pick up."

Sam McNeil, manager of Food Lion No. 2591 on Ash Street, said a skeleton crew of about 15 to 20 of his employees made it in to work. Others were told to stay home if they could not travel safely, but the grocery store needed to open regardless of the conditions, McNeil said.

"Normally we need to be there for the community. That's what we do," he said.

The manager arrived at the store at 6 a.m. to prepare for opening, and said the drive from his home near Lane Tree golf course was easier because of his car's new tires.

"I didn't slip a bit. It wasn't too bad. I kind of made my own path, though, because there wasn't anybody else around," McNeil said.

Not many shoppers were out stocking up Saturday morning, but many people came out to buy the necessities before the storm broke on Friday night, he said.

Customers were typically buying staples, but the store still had plenty more on hand in case latecomers needed to buy food.

"We still have stock on bread and milk and eggs. The essentials, we have. Produce, we're in good shape, the market, the deli," McNeil said.

The typical items might be popular with people because the cold wouldn't be a problem if the power went out, the manager added.

"I guess they think they can put it in the snow if they need to," he said.

McNeil said he planned on monitoring conditions outside to determine how long Food Lion would remain open as temperatures started to drop even further in the evening.

Food Lion customer Suzannah Puryear said she was also keeping an eye on the ongoing bad weather. That was why she decided to pick up some food early in the day.

"I guess we feel like it's going to get worse, we don't want to be getting back out," she said.

But risking the roads to pick up pancakes, drinks, ground beef and bread for her family was already fairly dangerous even at midday, she said.

"We didn't have any trouble, but we saw some other people who did," Mrs. Puryear said.

Many residents were also out buying rock salt and liquid de-icer, Auto Zone No. 422 manager Frank Dare said. The store's supply of rock salt was already sold out by Saturday morning, but the store still had tools for removing the hard-frozen crystals from vehicle windows.

"We're out of salt. We've still got some spray de-icer and a few ice chisels, but when it comes to sidewalk cleaning, that's gone," Dare said, moments after a cashier had to turn away a man looking for a supply of the salt.

Also out of salt was Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Store on Berkeley Boulevard, but zone manager Jesus Cruz said that hadn't stopped people from looking.

"It's been pretty steady. Most of the people were buying winter stuff -- plumb-ing insulation, flashlights, still looking for salt. We're out of salt, gas heaters and generators," he said.

By 1 p.m., however, it seemed the majority of the people in the store had shifted their attention from the storm to the other projects they needed to finish.

David Whaley of Mount Olive said he came up for some electrical supplies for his son who is working on his house.

"It's a good day to work inside while it's snowing outside," he said.

He added the drive up U.S. 117 wasn't too bad.

"We took our time, left extra car lengths," he said. "Just taking extra care today and being very careful."

It was good advice for those customers seeking help back at Auto Zone, too.

"We know that there's going to be people on the road that need help. We've been helping with wiper blades, wiper arms, all morning long," Dare said.

But driving in unsafe conditions is not a good idea, and the manager planned to close the Ash Street store early.

"We're hoping to close up a little early. We're hoping everybody does get off the road early today," Dare said.

On Center Street, Goldsboro Used Furniture store owner Wiley Williamson and delivery driver David Solomon spent the morning and early afternoon taking their products to their customers' doors. People still had electricity to run the stove and refrigerator they loaded earlier in the day, and there were still other deliveries to make, Williamson said.

"I had some stuff I had to deliver, so I figured I might as well come on in and get it done," he said.

The roads weren't that bad, especially compared to the weather he has driven in before, Solomon said.

"I've been here for worse weather than this. I'm from up north, we're used to snow. This is nothing new," Solomon said.

Williamson was also unfazed by the snow and ice. After living in Goldsboro for 40 years, he has seen much worse conditions, including one snowfall that piled drifts up to almost two feet deep, he said.

"It's done a whole lot worse, so this is not that bad," Williamson said.

But he also planned to close the store earlier than usual, he said.

Many Goldsboro fast food restaurants, including the Burger King on Spence Avenue, opened as usual. Business was slow, but store manager Joyce Craft said it is Burger King's corporate policy to open even in bad weather.

"We're always open. We're open whenever it's daylight, and we close before it gets dark, but through the middle of the day, we're open," Ms. Craft said.

While some of her employees did not make it in to work, the managers were required to be present and several of the workers who live closest to the store were able to fill in. But the store planned to close at 4 p.m. to make sure the employees made it home safely.

"We're trying to get them off the roads before it gets dark," Ms. Craft said.

Berkeley Boulevard IHOP manager James Manley said his staff would be doing the same thing Saturday -- closing at 4 p.m., but that there hadn't really been any doubt they would open.

"We just decided it wasn't that bad," he said. "There's been a lot of people out today -- a lot of people saying they appreciated that we were open today."

For one family from the Falling Brook area of Goldsboro, the fact IHOP was open was just a bonus.

"We were going out anyway," Cindy Goss said.

"We wanted to see how the weather was treating the rest of the town," added her husband Wayne Goss.

Besides, he said, it was the first real snow their daughter, Jessica, 4, had ever seen.

"She doesn't remember any -- 2004 was the last time we had anything good. She wanted to see everything," he said.

A little farther into town, Jarrett Poff, manager of Hollywood Video on Spence Avenue, opened the store by himself Saturday morning when another employee was unable to make it to work. However, he wasn't sure how long he would keep the store open, depending on the weather conditions going into Saturday night.

"I want to see kind of how it gets as it gets darker. As it gets colder, the roads are going to get worse and worse, so I'm kind of playing it by ear. I don't expect to be open until midnight like we usually are," Poff said.

The video store only had about half a dozen customers early in the day. The people who were there were mostly looking for a way to entertain their children, Poff said.

"A lot of games, a lot of people coming in getting their kids games to keep them from running around the house like crazy, give them something to entertain themselves for a while," he said.

But Hollywood Video patron Joseph Arnold said braving the bad roads was more about the thrill than about getting the DVDs he rented.

"I'm very adventurous, so it wasn't necessarily the movies. I was just looking for an excuse to go drive around in the snow," he said.

-- Assistant News Editor Matthew Whittle contributed to this report.