CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—The brutal weather so far in January is taking a toll on small businesses across our region. After a few tough years because of COVID-19, the recent weather has been a challenge for local shops.

When people don’t go out and shop or when people can’t get to work because of road conditions it can be devastating for small businesses depending on daily sales.

“It has been extremely slow. I mean I have seen one person today,” Traci Higginbotham said Thursday. She is the owner of Art Emporium in downtown Charleston.

Lil’ Bit of Heaven Cupcakes on Main Street in St. Albans had to close Thursday for weather. It marks the third time this month. Wednesday when they were open there were barely any customers.

“As far as walk-in traffic, we had four, that’s it,” said owner, Teri Blevins.

Because they have to be in very early to start baking at Lil’ Bit of Heaven, they’ve had to watch the forecast and think about safety.

“So then you are literally forced to make a decision between the safety of yourselves and your staff and your customers or going in and making money,” Blevins said.

She has used social media to keep customers informed and encourage them to place orders for the future because even when money isn’t coming in it is still going out.

“We don’t want our staff to go several days without being paid. That is not fair to them. So then of course we are trying to provide pay to them for those days off. But we are not bringing in any income,” she said.

At Art Emporium, Higginbothman said, in 20 years, she’s only closed twice for weather. But getting customers in the door is a challenge when weather is extreme.

“As you can see downtown the roads are clear the sidewalks are clear but it is cold and when it is cold people just don’t come out and walk around. So it is really hard on a small business,” Higginbotham said.

It is a burden even more difficult to bear in the midst of a pandemic that has stretched on now into a third year. Both business owners say, if consumers want to help, they can consider paying a special visit to a small business in their community over the next few days.