Shoppers brave the elements as stores gear up for busy week

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 3:22 PM EST
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WEST LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - The timing of Friday’s storm was not exactly ideal for retailers in the Upper Valley, as the slick roads kept shoppers at home. However, some were out braving the elements.

“Due to the snow, I’m not going super far,” said Nicholas Beliveau of Lebanon, who was taking it extra slow Friday at the big box stores in West Lebanon. The plows were providing most of the action in the parking lots. “I do know I need to head over and pick up a few gifts at Staples and Walmart,” he said, adding that he also makes a point to support mom-and-pop businesses. “I actually prefer supporting the smaller local stores.”

We headed up the Connecticut River Valley to visit some of those small businesses. At Norwich Wines and Spirits, workers shoveling snow out front were the only foot traffic Friday morning. “A fact of life living in New England and I will never complain about snow,” said owner Peter Rutledge. He says the downtime was good for a little housekeeping. “Good in that we are getting caught up on some stuff right now. Doing a little organizing and restocking and things that are tough to find time to do this time of year.”

It’s typically a slower time of year for Red Clover Bikes in Fairlee. “This had really been a summer community. People packed up and left in the winter,” said owner Sarah Pushee, who started the business in her garage during the pandemic. There’s a new energy in town at her current Route 5 location. “Part of the reason we are here and open year-round is we want to see Fairlee succeed and give people another option rather than going into Lebanon, which often is a huge traffic nightmare.”

Further north, Bradford is home to one of the region’s most well-known stores, Farm-Way. “We definitely needed the snow. It kicked people into gear. It feels more like the Christmas season versus what we had two or three days ago,” said owner Skip Metayer. The parking lot across the street was cleared for shoppers who were venturing out. Metayer says supply issues that plagued the business last season are no longer a concern. “Snowshoes, we have five or six hundred pairs on hand.”

And shoppers still have time. “Even though you may pay a little bit more, the quality is worth it,” Beliveau said.

Retailers predict Saturday should be a strong day and they say that momentum should continue all through next week as shoppers look for those last-minute deals.