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Chicago Extreme Cold: Businesses Frozen Out of Usual Store Traffic

By Alisa Hauser | January 7, 2014 9:24am
 Not surprisingly, sales were dismal at several local businesses and shops Monday. The freezing weather kept most people at home.
Not surprisingly, sales were dismal at several local businesses and shops Monday. The freezing weather kept most people at home.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser; The Silver Room/Facebook

WICKER PARK — The extreme cold hasn't kept everyone away from Wicker Park, but the handful of brave souls who were shopping, brunching and working in local businesses on Milwaukee Avenue had one thing in common: They were locals.

"Most of us live close to here. Everyone in here [shopping] is from around the neighborhood," said a worker at Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee Ave.

By 1:30 p.m. Monday, the record shop had had just 10 customers in its first three hours of businesses, but on a normal day it sees 40 to 50 customers, the worker said.

For those who lament long lines at The Bongo Room, the good news was there were plenty of tables open at the brunch spot, 1470 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Bongo Room's general manager Pedra O'Rorrke said the restaurant "was dead" in the morning but pickled up around 11 a.m. after she had "already cut half the staff."

Bongo Room, which has two other locations in Andersonville and the South Loop, plans to be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to its Facebook page.

Ken Lubinski, owner of Lubinski Furniture, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave. was surveying the empty streets from a couch around 2 p.m. Monday.

"Streets are dead," he said, pointing to a lone person bundled up and walking on the sidewalk.

"I was up at 5 a.m., and Tracy Butler was like: 'It's going to be a disaster, look at all the red [on the weather map] out there,'" Lubinski said.

"It's the news media's fault. If they weren't writing about this Chiberia, more people would be outside,' he added.

Though Monday didn't appear to be a strong day for furniture sales, Artemio's Bakery at 1443 N. Milwaukee Ave. was packed, with a steady stream of customers purchasing a Three Kings Day cake for the traditional religious holiday.

Ragstock, a secondhand clothing store at 1433 N. Milwaukee Ave., was among several shops that closed early Monday after an afternoon of slow sales.

Ragstock's manager Melissa Kmieciak said the only customer it had Monday was a person making a return. 

"So we are at negative sales," Kmieciak said.