Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2000

Recent heat takes a severe toll on local businesses

September 7, 2000

Driving west along North 1500 Road, evidence of damage from this summer's heat is prevalent. To the north, acres of corn stand brown and seared from the heat. To the south, browned milo slouches to the ground from a lack of water along the dusty stretch. The evidence is clear the heat has affected the area, causing problems for local businesses.

Larry Schaake lives on 1500 road, west of Eudora. His business, run by his wife and daughters, is selling pumpkins, Indian corn, gourds and other produce and arts and crafts associated with fall decorations. With this year's excess heat, Schaake's main product, pumpkins, is in danger of being a rarity this fall.

"We're probably going to run out of pumpkins by the middle of October," Schaake said. "From a normal year, we're down about 50 percent this year."

Schaake said watering the crops isn't as big a problem as heat. Irrigation can be done to supply the crops with water. But the lack of rain has made the heat unbearable for his crops, the heat causing premature ripening.

"We're probably a month ahead of schedule," Schaake said. "We're picking corn right now and we normally don't pick until October.

"Heat you can't do much about. You can irri-

See Heat, Page 3A

gate if there's a water problem, but if it's hot there's nothing you can do about it."

High temperatures have caused problems for the non-agricultural business also.

Marc Nicolay, owner of Bargain Town, said the heat has swayed some customers from shopping at his store. Bargain Town, south of K-10 highway and west of Church Street, sells warehouse-liquidated merchandise.

"It's killing us," Nicolay said. "We've had people come in the last couple of weeks and said, 'we would have stopped in more but it's just too blasted hot.'"

Not all businesses are negatively affected by the summer heat.

Harold Stewart, Sonic general manager, said his customers are usually looking to beat the heat with a cool refreshment. Stewart said this summer Sonic has received a lot of drink and ice cream sales, which he attributes to the heat.

"A lot more people come in for the route 44 drinks," Stewart said. "Usually the hotter it is the busier we are. People don't like to cook for themselves so we cook for them."

Stewart said one of the biggest problems this summer has been cooling the business. Temperatures are kept near 70 degrees to keep carhops cool, causing a good size monthly electric bill. He said the air conditioning is turned off at night to lower the cost, but the bills are still high.

"The utility bills have probably been one of the biggest bills this month," Stewart said.

Nicolay said he has seen similar high electric bills.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought, it could be," Nicolay said. But, it's still a good chunk of change."

Despite recent high temperatures, most area business people agree the only thing to do is ride the storm out.

"You farm, you deal with Mother Nature," Schaake said. "No matter how well you do, she can make thing worse. You've gotta learn to live with it."

Nicolay agreed, saying the only thing to do it "ride it out." In turn, he offers a little air conditioning to shoppers, which may just bring some in out of the heat," he said.

"We offer free, cool air. No charge," Nicolay said.

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