Storm Causes Many Stores to Close Throughout Charlottesville

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Snow at Barracks Road Shopping Center Snow at Barracks Road Shopping Center
The inclement weather and a shortage of shoppers is causing many stores and restaurants in central Virginia to turn out the lights and put up closed signs for the day.

NBC29 made the trip to Barracks Road Shopping Center Monday morning. There were a few shoppers out at the grocery stores - which are open - but nearly everything else is shuttered during the storm. Would-be shoppers are staying home and closed signs hang on most of the shop doors.

Lindt Chocolate Shop is one of the few stores that opened Monday. The manager says he was expecting a big delivery of Easter chocolate, but the delivery truck driver decided it wasn't safe to make the trip from Roanoke.

“I was just on the phone with my district manager and she said there's not much point in wasting the labor hours, no point risking my life either trying to get back home this evening,” said Drew Eglie, manager at Lindt Chocolate. “So, she's told me to finish up what I'm doing and call it a day.”

The Lindt store had a total of two customers in the first hour it was open Monday. Many of those stores didn't open because it's too treacherous for employees to make the trek to work.

The businesses that are open encourage you to call ahead because they may not stay open much longer if the snow gets worse.

On Charlottesville’s downtown mall, several small business owners braved the storm to open up their doors for customers in need Monday. Most closed up shop earlier than usual, but say it's nice to be there for the regulars.

People in the downtown area had a handful of options to grab food or a hot cup of coffee earlier in the day. Even though most of the store owners admit they don't make much money on days like this, a couple of inches of snow won't stop them.

“I'm an idiot and the rent's due. That's about all I can tell you,” said Dan Pribus, owner of Blue Ridge Country Store.

Pribus is no idiot - he knows what his loyal customers expect. He says the wintry mix was just starting to come down when he got into work.

“I looked outside when I was coming into work at 4:00. It was just raining. They said it was going to snow, but sometimes you're not always sure who you're going to believe with the weather,” said Pribus.

Pribus says the decision to open up isn't always an easy one.

“It's getting tougher and tougher to open on these days though because my wife and I were just talking, it used to be that on snow days, we would still have a decent amount of traffic, but it's just not happening the way it used to,” said Pribus.

Chaps Ice Cream is another store that usually sticks it out through a storm.

“We've been here 29 years and we very seldom close. We've closed maybe three or four times in the last 29 years, and today is no different,” said Tony LaBua, owner of Chaps Ice Cream.

LaBua says there's usually a lunchtime rush to keep their registers ringing.

“It's not worth it to stay open, but it certainly beats sitting at home,” said LaBua.

Splendora's Gelato Café is also serving some of its coffee regulars but waiting for the warmth to bring in more customers.

“What we found is people freak out once it's warm again. Because of the way it is outside, you're stuck inside. Everyone definitely has cabin fever and even if it's the tiniest bit warm, tiniest bit of sun, they're here,” said PK Ross of Splendora’s.

All three of those stores on the downtown mall closed at 3 p.m. Monday. Customers without many other options for lunch or snacks stopped by throughout the day to show their appreciation. 

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