EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 24, 2013

High heat, rain hurt N.H. businesses

Extreme heat, rain hurting many seasonal businesses

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — It all started with one of the wettest Junes in state history. Then there was a full week of rain, a week of 90-degree heat and more rain this week.

“It’s really been horrible,” said Larry Belair, owner of Victorian Park entertainment center in Salem.

Belair is one of many local seasonal business owners battling unpredictable weather this summer. That weather — torrential downpours and blistering heat — has cut into profits for some.

“We’re off about 20 percent from last year, which was our worst year,” Belair said. “You can’t control the weather.”

Belair and his wife, Verna, have run the miniature golf course, arcade and ice cream parlor for 22 years. The couple, who are in their early 70s, decided to close the business for good after Labor Day and retire.

Another day of rain yesterday put a damper on business at Victorian Park, Canobie Lake Park in Salem, golf courses and local ice cream shops.

They all rely heavily on warm weather and sunshine to boost summer business.

Canobie Lake Park, which attracts thousands of people on a typical summer day, closed at 12:30 p.m. yesterday, only an hour and a half after opening, park spokesman Chris Nicoli said.

The few people who visited the park were invited to come back another day, Nicoli said. It’s rare when the park has to close because of inclement conditions, he said.

The heat last week also kept some people away, Nicoli said. He was encouraged by today’s forecast, which calls for sunny weather and temperatures in the 80s. That trend is expected to continue for several days.

“We’re looking forward to getting the (better) weather back,” Nicoli said.

While the heat last week drew many customers to Moo’s Place Homemade Ice Cream in Derry, the rain hasn’t helped business, co-owner Christy Larocca said.

On a typical summer day, about 40 customers stop off by early afternoon, Larocca said. Yesterday, there were only a half dozen customers by 1:30 p.m., she said.

But when the rain stopped minutes later, more customers started to come, she said.

Other weather-dependent businesses, including painting and roofing companies, also count on dry, sunny days to earn a dollar.

So when Al Greene of Georgoulis Roofing & Construction started his day yesterday, he was immediately disappointed. The drenching rain put a halt to all roofing. The Dracut company does work throughout northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

“It was way too wet,” he said. “It’s a shot day.”

Last week’s 90-degree heat was uncomfortable, but bearable, Greene said. But when temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees Friday, employees were given the day off.

For Mark DiMinico of Exterior Images Roofing & Painting in Derry, this summer has meant working long days and constantly playing catchup after near-record rainfall in June put a lot of painting projects on hold until the weather improved.

“The whole month of June was pretty bad,” he said. “We worked for a couple of days and then the rest was a wash.”

He’s not exaggerating.

It was the 10th wettest June on record in Southern New Hampshire since record-keeping began in 1871, according to meteorologist Nikki Becker of the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

There were 6.78 inches of rainfall in June — far more than the average of 3.69 inches over the past 30 years, she said. The wettest June was in 1944 when 10.10 inches of rain fell, Becker said. Figures for July are not yet available.

All the rain has meant his company has had to work longer days and weekends to get their jobs done, DiMinico said.