LeClaire businesses feel the pain as weather puts foot traffic on ice

LECLAIRE, Iowa -- At the Mississippi River Distilling Company, several staff members were busy bottling gin for international distribution, as local meteorologists predicted more snowfall for the week.

Owner Ryan Burchett, himself a former weather man, says his distillery has suffered as the extreme conditions this winter weather have kept visitors away.

"We don’t have a huge population outside of our door anyway, so if you’re coming in, you’re probably travelling," he says. "So when travel is affecting I-80, that affects our business. When not as many people are walking up and down the street, that impacts our business."

"It’s hard, it’s frustrating, and it definitely makes an impact on the bottom line this time of year," he says.

LeClaire businesses are doing all they can to entice customers to come out. On Sunday, shops on South Cody Road held a Cocoa Crawl with samplings of hot cocoa and chocolate treats.

The Mississippi River Distilling Company hosted an outdoor cocktail party and patrons had drinks and marshmallows as a blistering polar vortex was approaching.

"This Thursday we're having 'Palentine's Day.' You don't have to have a date, just bring a friend," Burchett adds.

A few doors down at Razzleberries, shop manager Mary Anna Parris, a bubbly  former kindergarten teacher, says the lack of foot traffic has been a downer for business and for the shop-owner and herself.

"We're social people," she laughs. "We love when people come in."

She says even during her teaching days, she had never seen schools close for several days in a row.

"Three days of nobody coming in, it’s kinda brutal," she says.

Still she's keeping a positive attitude: "We just trust that our regulars and visitors keep coming back."

Burchett echoes that sentiment. He says he hopes locals remember their favorite local businesses support local families .

"You know if you’ve got a restaurant down the street, if you’ve got a shop down the street, chances are - whether they’re in LeClaire or wherever - they’re probably struggling a little bit right now getting people to their front door."

"So take care of the folks in your backyard, take care of those small businesses that do depend on you as a customer."

And when summertime does rolls around, he says he'll be taking care of you with a nice cocktail.

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