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Archive for Wednesday, October 23, 1996

SNOW HAS SHOPPERS SCURRYING

October 23, 1996

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Tuesday's snow caught a number of people off guard and forced changes in buying habits and travel plans.

Just when you thought it was time to carve a pumpkin, Mother Nature went out of her gourd.

The Lawrence area on Tuesday was hammered by an uncharacteristic October dumping of winter white, sending residents and visitors scurrying to stores for coats and gloves, then leading them home to a fire and something warm to drink or eat.

Throughout town, workers at various stores and businesses noticed that the sudden flurry had an immediate effect on customers.

"Not everybody needs a coat, but they'll sure come in and buy one," said Virginia Evans, employee at Sunflower, 804 Mass. "You'd be amazed at how the weather totally affects what people think they need."

In addition to waterproof winter coats, Evans said gloves, fleece pullovers and scarves were hot sellers Tuesday.

"Lots and lots of warm stuff," Evans said.

Ricky Allen, management trainee at Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa, said shovels, sleds and ice-removing salt began to melt off the shelves Tuesday.

Gloves and stocking caps also moved briskly, Allen said, adding that she was taken aback this morning when she looked out her window.

"It can't snow before Halloween," Allen said.

Of course, even if the snow confounded shoppers, Christmas decorations were also available.

"We start receiving Christmas stuff at the end of September, first of October," Allen said.

With outerwear and outdoor needs taken care of, grocery and liquor store patrons bought up cold-weather food and spirits.

Bob Weigel, store manager at Dillons, 3000 W. Sixth, said soup, chuck roasts, ground beef, chili powder and hot chocolate were hot-ticket items.

"It's kind of chili-fixing time," Weigel said.

Some took it a step further, purchasing staples such as milk and bread, as well as winter necessities such as ice scrapers and firewood.

"People must think they're going to get snowed in," Weigel said. "I didn't think it was going to snow for another four months."

Marty McGarrigle, employee at Myers Liquor, 902 W. 23rd, said beer sales slowed somewhat Tuesday. Big sellers included Bailey's Irish Creme and Kahlua.

"We've already seen quite a bit of that -- a lot of the stuff that goes in hot coffee or hot chocolate," McGarrigle said.

Shoppers also purchased scotch and flavored brandy. And red wine sales typically increase during the winter months, McGarrigle said.

As snow and temperatures continued to fall Tuesday night, streets and highways emptied and residents tucked away in their homes.

Even visitors had to stick around.

"We're going to stay overnight," said David Boots, who was visiting from Wichita with his wife. "We were planning to stay, anyway, but now we definitely will."

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