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First winter storm freezes Arlington
ARLINGTON — The first snowfall of this year’s winter in the area put a damper on the days before Thanksgiving for many Arlington residents and business owners, but not everyone was frozen in their tracks by the chill winds and icy roads.
“Our business has decreased a bit, but not as much as people might think,” said Heather Beck, co-owner of Mirkwood and the Shire Cafe on Division Street in Arlington. “We’ve still been getting plenty of foot-traffic, and the people who stop by hang out a lot longer.”
Beck noted that Mirkwood’s regular closing time is 11 p.m. during the week, but it closed its doors two hours early on Nov. 22 and 23. She added that the Shire Cafe remained open until midnight on Nov. 24 for its regular open mike night.
“Since nobody had to show up for work the next day, it made sense,” said Beck, who counted coffee and soup as among her most popular orders of the week.
Arlington resident and retired police officer Roger Moen stopped by the Shire Cafe on the afternoon of Nov. 24 for a drink, and rolled his eyes at the reactions of a number of his fellow area residents to their first snowfall of the year.
“I remember when West Avenue was still gravel, back when I was just a teenager,” Moen said. “These winters are nowhere near as bad as I was used to back then. As a young kid in the 1950s, I missed days of school every year because the snow was so heavy. People just need to slow down.”
Jamie Ryker, owner of the Triple Shot espresso stand on Olympic Avenue, described her own business as being as busy as ever.
“Most of the vehicles we’ve served have been trucks, until today,” Ryker said Nov. 24. “We’ve had lots of walkup customers. Everyone’s gotten in and out okay.”
Ryker’s most popular order from Nov. 22-24 was the “Snowflake,” a piping-hot beverage with white chocolate and peppermint mixed together. Arlington residents Dennis Harkless and Sherri McCarthy, two of Ryker’s customers, agreed that “our mayor has done a better job than Seattle’s mayor” of responding to the snow.
For Linda Clifford, co-owner of the Local Scoop restaurant on Olympic Avenue, the area’s first snowfall of the year has compounded the slowdown in business that she’s seen since the fall shift to daylight-saving time.
“The dark and the cold seem to be keeping people home,” Clifford said Nov. 24. “We have our wonderful regulars who still make it in, but if we go more than an hour or so without anybody coming in, we close up early. It’s more important that we give our employees enough time to get home safely. Two of our employees weren’t able to make it in on Tuesday due to the ice and snow.”
Clifford recalled that her patrons have been ordering more hot cocoa, French dip and hot beef sandwiches since the first snowfall.
“They’re looking for hot, hearty, filling meals,” Clifford said, before laughing, “Our ice cream business has been slow, though.”
Just south on the same block of Olympic Avenue, Steve Saunders reported an entirely different customer response at his Rocket Alley Bar & Grill bowling lane and restaurant.
“We’ve been packed all day,” Saunders said Nov. 24. “We had to cancel our league night due to the snow on Monday, but we still got league night numbers of customers that night. Some of the league teams came in to bowl that night anyway.”
According to Saunders, a number of his customers on Nov. 22 and 23 were without power as a result of the snowfall and sought out his establishment for warm meals.
Even on the cold, dark afternoon of Nov. 24, three members of the “Hardwood Ball-Slingers” bowling team were competing among themselves on Saunders’ lanes and dismissing the severity of this year’s first snowfall.
“So far, it’s barely even winter yet,” Darik Green said. “We’ve had it pretty good. It’s gotten a lot worse.”
“It does set back the construction work outside,” said Mike Miles, Green’s teammate.
“It looks like we’ll finally be getting what a winter should be like,” Ben Stieben said, before launching his ball at the pins. “We’ve had some pretty lame ones.”
The staff of Arlington Hardware & Lumber weren’t surprised by the increase in their business from Nov. 22-24, since most of the purchases made on those days were to combat the effects of snow and ice. Arlington Hardware employee Deb Lyon listed their big sellers as heat tape and insulation, space heaters and heat lamps, and vent and faucet covers.
“We’ve sold more ice melter in the past three days than we did total all last winter,” fellow Arlington Hardware employee Steve Van Valkenburg said Nov. 24. “We’re constantly checking what we have in stock in all of our departments so that we can stay ahead of demand in ordering our supplies. We can’t order so much that we’re stuck with the excess until next winter, but repair and emergency items are mandatory purchases for our customers, so we can’t run out. We have to have all these supplies available to them right now. It’s a tricky balancing act.”