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Cold front chills Oxford businesses

By Connor Moriarty
On February 14, 2014

Piles of icy snow lining the streets are all that is left to show for the record cold temperatures Oxford experienced last month that forced people to stay indoors and not go Uptown.

This record-cold winter has called for Ohioans to adapt in many ways, but the subzero weather is causing even the most popular Oxford businesses to suffer.

Throughout the month of January, most of the country saw record-low temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Columbus reached -7 degrees Fahrenheit, two degrees lower than the previous record, and Cleveland reached -12 degrees Fahrenheit, five degrees lower than the previous record.

"To some, it's just too cold to go outside to walk to class or to go Uptown," first-year journalism major Alex Abboud said. "Facing the cold is just not worth going Uptown."

But the cold has affected more than just Miami students' nightlives. Local businesses say there has been a noticeable drop in sales this winter due to the lower temperatures, causing a lack of Uptown traffic.

Manager of 45 East Bar and Grill Jeremiah Robuck said sales have been a bit down this winter, which could be attributed to the weather.

"People just seem to be going out less," Robuck said. "The cold makes going outside a lot less appealing."

But Robuck said he thinks it is hard to tell if the weather alone is the reason sales are down. He said he suspects the polar vortex hitting Oxford immediately after Winter Term makes for a bad combination.

Various businesses lining High Street also noticed less traffic and fewer sales, including popular shops, such as The Apple Tree, Dubois Bookstore and Orange Leaf.

Dubois Bookstore employee Ramona Gray was surprised to see how few people came in and out of the store throughout January.

"I would think that with the cancelled classes we would see more business, but we didn't," Gray said.

Even chain restaurants stationed in Oxford saw a significant drop in revenue throughout the colder-than-normal days, including Skyline Chili, which was forced to close during the coldest days.

"When it got really cold, we didn't see much business, and it just wasn't safe to try to travel to work, so we closed," Skyline's Oxford branch manager Connie Flannely said.

To draw customers back into their establishments, various businesses utilize special marketing strategies to make buying their product worth the walk through the cold. Orange Leaf, for example, stays up-to-date with their Facebook page and offers 'Happy Hour' deals according to employee Miranda Kappes.

Perhaps the most common marketing strategy seen Uptown is showing Oxford residents what to look forward to: spring. While walking down High Street, one can see countless poster boards and display windows showing offers and previews for Valentine's Day and the warmer spring months.

Apple Tree employee Lisa Wespiser said she likes to warm up the colder months for everyone by keeping spring in their thoughts.

"[The Apple Tree] likes to decorate the display windows with spring attire and decorations to give us something to look forward to through during the coldest time of the year," Wespiser said.

A fortunate few Oxford businesses have seen an increase in attendance and sales due to the cold.

Brick Street employee Nick Pasquale said the recent subzero weather has pushed even more people to come to the bar, especially for their famous 90s Night.

"People have been stuck inside because of the muggy weather so I think they just take the night as a time to get out," Pasquale said. "Plus, the weather won't slow the attendance for 90s Night."

Delivery services across Oxford especially have seen a change in business this last month. Papa Johns, for example, has seen a noticeable spike in delivery orders, according to Manager Colton Huesing.

"Papa Johns' policy is to stay open up until a level three weather advisory, so we were open for the mass amounts of deliveries that were called in," Huesing said.

According to Huesing, her and fellow co-workers just wish they could see an increase in delivery tips as well during these rare weather circumstances.

"We are risking our safety by driving in this weather, and it would be nice for students to show that they appreciate that," she said.

Luckily, according to The Old Farmers Almanac, the worst of the cold days are behind us, and we can look forward to the warmer spring months.

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