August 4, 2012
Car Tiki, Snowfire Auto, Waterbury/Moretown
Snowfire Auto is located at the corner of Route 2 & Route 100 in what many consider to be a part of Waterbury (and is, if you believe the zip code) but is really in Moretown. We consider Snowfire to be a Waterbury business, and they have been generous throughout the years to both communities. Snowfire is an automobile repair shop, and it has also grown its used car sales office, offering “southern” vehicles to Vermonters for decent price and with the promise of excellent service. Given their location, Snowfire’s business was enhanced by state employees who worked at the complex in Waterbury Village. When Irene hit, Snowfire lost a parking lot full of cars and bucket load of customers.
Snowfire reopened relatively quickly, and within a few months their sales stock was back to normal. They took to Facebook to promote their sales and service, and they have been climbing back out of the whole Irene left for them slowly. As of today, their sales and service numbers are off 16% from last year–better than the 25-30% they experienced last fall, but still far short of their expectations and plans.
For Snowfire, and other small businesses in Waterbury, 16% still represents a challenge they weren’t planning on dealing with a year ago. They had survived the major portion of the recession in decent shape and had been looking for real growth as the recession eased. If a 16% drop is the new normal for them until the state complex is rebuilt, they have some serious questions to answer: how long can we survive at this number? Do we have to lay people off? Is there real help available at this point in time, after the immediate rush of recovery? Three years is a long time. Planning for that will take some real patience, strength and support. Luckily for Snowfire–and other small businesses in Waterbury–their customer base is loyal and will do the best they can to help. Even now, a 16% drop is better than the 30% they started with in November/December. But it will be a real struggle for a long time for them to last until the state workers return.
The Tiki is hanging on their wall to bring them luck and good spirit. So far so good.