By TIM HORAN
There seems to be nothing like a good snowstorm, well, back-to-back snowstorms, to boost the economy of Abilene.
“It got the sales tax collections up,” said Steve West, manager of West’s Country Mart of the storm that came through Abilene last Wednesday night and Thursday. Another snowstorm was predicted for Monday but that didn’t happen until Tuesday morning.
Due to consumer demand and lack of deliveries, both grocery stores in Abilene sold out of many items last week and again over the weekend. Hardware stores also reported many winter items were sold out.
“It was a couple days before we could get a delivery in,” said Robert Zey of Zey’s Market. “We sold out of lettuce, bananas, milk, eggs; we sold out of a lot of things. It was two extra days before we could get a delivery in.”
That Thursday shipment arrived on Saturday. But with another storm in the forecast he said business started to pick back up on Monday because of the forecast.
“People are starting to get out a little bit,” Zey said.
West, who has been in the grocery business since he was 12, said there haven’t been many storms to create a rush on the store.
“Not since we were across the street,” he said. “One time we had one snowstorm coming in and one coming in right behind. We were wiped out of bread, potatoes and bread and everything else.”
West’s IGA used to be located in the south part of the building along with ALCO.
West said the increased traffic started on Tuesday after the weather forecasters predicted up to 18 inches of snow possible.
“Potatoes, bread, milk, eggs: those are the big ones,” he said of the public’s demand.
“We missed one truck last Thursday. They called on Wednesday and said they weren’t going to ship it. They called on Thursday and said they were going to ship Friday. We got it (shipment) on Saturday,” he said.
But it wasn’t long before customers stocked up for the second wave on Monday and Tuesday.
“It went out pretty fast,” West said. “We got some more this morning. Hopefully, it will get us through to the next one if we don’t get a truck tomorrow (Tuesday). We are supposed to get a truck tomorrow.
“People just don’t want to be caught without food,” West said.
Sunday there was no need for sackers to ask for a “paper or plastic” preference.
“We ran out of bags last night and we were using boxes, expensive shopping bags; whatever we had, we were using,” West said.
Both Zey and West said the customers were patient and understanding.
“We’re selling ice melt and snow shovels,” said Brad Berry, owner of RHV.
He said they sold out of snow shovels and snow blowers last week.
“We should have some back in, in the morning (Tuesday),” Berry said. “We sold out of sleds, too.”
He said RHV also had delivery issues.
“Our stuff comes out of Cape Girardeau, Mo. and getting through Kansas City was tough for them,” he said.
Scott Anderson, manager at the ALCO store, said winter products were in demand.
“Snow shovels and winter items; they have been hitting us pretty hard,” Anderson said of customer demands.
“It has been unusual with the back-to-back snowstorms,” he said. “Usually, we do sell down but when there are two storms it just depletes everything.”
Anderson said the fact that the ALCO warehouse is just down the road doesn’t help.
“It comes in normal shipments like it does to every store,” he said of merchandise.