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Open market huge success with snowed-in customers
by Joan Durbin
February 19, 2014 12:13 PM | 2517 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo Tracy Hoexter / Canton Street during the ice storm.
Special Photo Tracy Hoexter / Canton Street during the ice storm.
For a prime example of how a “walkable village” concept could be a success in and around downtown Roswell, look to Roswell Provisions owner Cyril Blacha’s experiences.

The small European-style market at 955 Canton St. was the only business open every day of last week’s snow and ice event. And business, Blacha said, was brisk, even on the peak day of the storm.

“Normally on a Wednesday I’m open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This Wednesday we were open only 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and we still did 35 percent more sales than on a regular Wednesday,” he said.

Blacha, who lives in Land O’ Lakes in Roswell with his wife, Kelly, also had kept the store open in January’s snow without resorting to a car to get him there.

“It’s an easy walk” from his home, he said.

This time, even with more snow and predictions of significant icing on the roadways, was no different.

“I told my wife I was going to the store to open up and she said I was crazy, that no one would be there,” Blacha said. “But we were slammed all day.”

Rarely is Canton Street without vehicles unless it’s the dead of night, but the weather and warnings by media and government and public safety officials to stay off the streets kept that road in the popular retail strip completely empty.

With only one sure-fire transportation method still available, customers who lived within a few miles radius of Blacha’s market reached the store by foot.

Roswellian John Miller thinks he may have been the only customer who actually drove there.

“I have a four-wheel drive and I grew up in Michigan, so I’m used to a lot of snow,” the Sentinel on the River resident said.

A regular at the store for coffee, pastries and conversation, Miller said he and his neighbor decided to take a ride to Canton Street. “He’s pretty adventurous,” Miller said of Blacha, “and I knew if anyone would be open for business, it would be him.”

By the time Miller left, the little market was full of customers who had walked there from residences all around the area, Blacha said. He was so busy making coffee, baking bread, slicing meats and cheeses and manning the register that he had to call in one of his part-time employees who also lived nearby and walked to work.

“People were very understanding, very patient,” Blacha said. “I sold a lot of wine, too.”

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