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Chicago's 'Worst Winter Ever' Causes Shoppers to 'Hibernate'

By Alisa Hauser | March 6, 2014 7:47am
 The streets have been emptier than usual in Wicker Park because of the cold weather.
The streets have been emptier than usual in Wicker Park because of the cold weather.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — A look by the Fed found that cold and snowy weather slowed local spending — a situation that service industry workers in the neighborhood confirmed.

Cab driver Faisal Arshard said he averages $300-$350 over a 10-to-12-hour shift, but "This winter has not been normal."

Some days it has been "as bad as $10 an hour" or $100-$150 for a shift, said Arshard, who on Friday night said North Avenue in Wicker Park was unusually deserted because of the weather.

When asked to use three words to describe the winter, the 27-year-old said, "Worst winter ever."

The weather has affected those who work indoors as well.

Jennifer Falstrom, 23, a server at Silver Cloud Bar and Grill, 1700 N. Damen Ave., said Tuesday: "'I live on tips, and the past three weeks there has been one day over 40 degrees."

 It has been a tough winter for business, says area workers who rely on people going out on the town.
Rough Winter for Service, Retail Industry
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Falstrom described this winter as "unforgiving, constant and a learning experience."

"It is I something I can say I have experienced," she said.

For three days in a row, Falstrom said she averaged $5 an hour over a five-hour shift.

"It has not eased up at all," she said.

At High Noon Saloon, 1560 N. Milwaukee Ave, bar owner Baris Yuksel said "tough is an underestimate" in describing he winter, which he called "slushy, salty and brutal."

Yuksel, who has owned local bars for the last 10 years, said his bar profits are down 10 to 20 percent since the beginning of December.

"Usually it gets cold and people hibernate and then they come out. But people are still hibernating. This is the longest hibernation of customers," he said, adding that he thinks "20 degrees is a new heat wave in Chicago."

On the retail front, some sales are down, too.

Susie Lee, owner of Moon Voyage Boutique at 2010 W. Pierce Ave, called the winter "long, freezing and salty."

Lee and the owners of 11 other local boutiques are getting together Saturday to host a warehouse sale.

Lee said the idea to hold a group sale was inspired by seeking "open lines of communication with other boutiques. We need more of a community."

For shoppers, the sale will be "a good way to see merchandise all at once, without having to walk around in the cold to all of our different shops all over the neighborhood," Lee said.

The Wicker Collective's Multi-Boutique Warehouse Sale is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park.