BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Sunday, February 13, 2011
2/13/11 at 10:03 AM
Get continuing coverage of
the weather in Tulsa and
watch videos and slideshows
from the storm.
Storm costs accumulate
Tulsans glad to be out of the house
Tulsa-area companies report huge losses from big winter storms
What to do about money problems due to storms
Financial blow may be as big as storms
Alice Hewett is a country girl.
"I don't depend on anybody else to come and shovel me out," the Tulsa resident said. No one came by to clear the old roads of snow or trudge through slush to feed the cattle.
"You had to go out in it. That's my spirit."
Besides, she and her husband are self-employed, so they couldn't let this month's double-whammy wintry weather get in their way. And you better believe it wasn't going to make her miss her regular hair appointment. Armed with studded snow tires on her four-wheel drive pickup, Hewett drove to Bradley's Sanctuary, 303 N. Cincinnati Ave., for the salon visit she makes every four weeks.
" 'I'll go without food, but I'm not going to miss my hair appointment,' " Bradley Rene Garcia quoted his client, who also wore Yaktrax on her boots and wielded a walking stick for the slushy journey.
"We know there's not a lot of income for a lot of businesses due to the weather, and I knew that Bradley needed his paycheck," Hewett said.
Hewett is apparently an exception, though, as many folks in the service industry suffered because of the winter weather, which closed local salons, moving companies, bars and restaurants. Or, most often, it simply kept customers stranded at home.
Between school closings, and treacherous neighborhood streets, sidewalks and parking lots, the city came to a grinding halt, said Penny Pederson, owner of European Spa & Salon at the Plaza, 81st Street and Lewis Avenue.
"Due to the snow-packed main streets, it took a leap of faith to drive even the shortest distance to obtain only the most basic needs like eggs, milk and bread," said Pederson, whose salon was closed Feb. 2-3, with limited staff available the rest of the week. "The snow seemed never ending."
And with no income during the snow days, "the bills marched on," she said.
Some people thrived on this weather, said Kenneth Walters, owner of Executive Moving & Storage, 10398 E. 21st St. Pipes froze and burst, so plumbers were called. Cars became stranded, so towing services were needed. But Walters' employees can't move in this weather - too much of a liability, especially when you're transporting thousands of dollars worth of furniture and families' precious belongings.
"Most of us went from having completely full days packed back to back with clients to canceling every single client," said Nicole Dwyer, a stylist at Fusion Salon, 329 S. Elm St., in Jenks. For some clients, it's already their third, even fourth time to reschedule, as some were sick or their kids had the flu.
Hair on the Square, 507 S. Main St., was closed the week of Jan. 31, said stylist Brooke Lowther, who missed more days this past week because of the second snowy onslaught.
"I'm scraping to make it," she said.
For many elective service providers, such as salons, spas and restaurants, the lost revenue can't be made up, said Bob Fleischman, managing director for stylist Joel Wright's Chrysalis Salon & Spa, 7 E. Brady St.
"It hit us extra hard because we had just come off our winter vacation the week before and had a full book for both of those days," Fleischman said. Plus, the salon had planned a hair-scoping event last weekend, which had to be canceled. Although they're usually closed Monday and Tuesday, they worked those days this week to see clients who missed appointments since the blizzard.
In 30 years of business, Ihloff Salon and Day Spa, which has locations at Utica Square and Memorial Drive near 81st Street, has only closed twice due to weather - the ice storm of December 2007 and last week.
"The weather has had a devastating impact on our business and on the incomes of our staff, as well as many of our industry friends in other states," said Sara Cruncleton, Ihloff's spa director. When roads became more drivable, patrons were booking appointments "like crazy." But then a water pipe break on 21st Street forced the Utica Square location to close. Again.
Making up for lost time
Doc's Wine & Food, 3509 S. Peoria Ave., closed for lunch Wednesday but opened up that evening and was back on track Thursday, said bar manager Noah Bush. The week of the blizzard, they were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and only opened up at night Thursday and Friday. That cut into the staff's tips - their livelihood.
"I need to make some money, the kitchen staff needs to make money, the servers need money," Bush said. Thankfully, being in Brookside, the restaurant has a good neighborhood crowd that doesn't have to drive far - or drive, period.
Daily Grill in the Hyatt Regency, 100 E. Second St., stayed open each day.
"It's made us a little busier," said the restaurant's general manager, Kenneth Scudder.
People who had checked in to the hotel were eating there twice, often three times a day. However, his usual business crowd wasn't coming in, as many were stranded at home, Scudder said - as were some of the staff, who spent that time without tips.
"Is it something they can't make up? No," Scudder said. "But it hurts when you lose one-fifth or two-thirds of your income for a week, and that's kind of what they've been faced with."
The same goes for Walters and his movers, who haven't worked in two weeks. This is already the worst part of the year for his business, so treacherous roads put an even bigger dent in income.
"We won't be able to make it up," said Walters, who speculated it could be weeks, maybe months before things even out for him. His guys normally work eight- or 10-hour shifts, and they're paid by the hour. And like Bush and Scudder's staff, those movers usually get tips - a little cash flow on which they've come to rely.
To help make up for lost days and sales, some salons are hanging hopes on Valentine's Day. Ihloff, for instance, is focusing its energy on Valentine's Day gift sales, Cruncleton said, and European Spa & Salon is offering specials on hair-care products. Fusion's Dwyer mentioned a package of 30-minute massage, spa manicure, deep conditioning treatment, and shampoo and style for $100, plus half-off kids' cuts, by appointment. And at Hair on the Square, Lowther is contemplating $5 discounts on haircuts.
"I'm sure we'll be really busy and get back steady again when the weather goes out," Lowther said.
Jason Ashley Wright 581-8483
Brooke Lowther, a stylist at the Hair on the Square salon, said, "I'm sure we'll be really busy and get back steady again when the weather goes out." MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Bar manager Noah Bush (left) jokes with server Lori Fisher and owner Darin Ross at Doc's Wine & Food in Brookside. The restaurant has a good neighborhood crowd that doesn't have to drive far — or drive, period. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World