Businesses adjust to the cold snap

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The cold weather may boost sweater and scarf sales, but it has the potential to hurt a lot of other businesses who aren't cold-friendly. Bulwagi, a 10-foot tall African elephant who arrived at the Birmingham Zoo early Tuesday morning and got a bitterly cold greeting from Mother Nature.

But the zoo says his 13,000 pounds should keep him pretty warm during this cold snap.

"He's been mostly indoors right now," said Dr. Stephanie McCain, a veterinarian at the Birmingham Zoo. "He was outdoors yesterday in the sun. It won't take him long, being such a big animal he can thermoregulate pretty well. But since he's moving from the South, we'll probably introduce him to the cold weather a little bit slower. Every species here has temperature guidelines where they will be moved inside or at least allowed access indoors if they choose. So all of that's set, usually the day before we know what we're gonna be doing."

The zoo's Zoolight Safari program starts Friday, part of their effort to keep customers coming in during the coldest days, but other businesses don't have live animals as a drawing card.

At the Homewood Garden Shop, it's live plants and advice that's keeping Pam Clark's customers coming despite the cold.

"Customers are coming in buying Christmas trees and wreaths and they're asking questions about 'what do we do with our pansies or annuals and giving lots of advice related to the cold weather," Clark said.

Clark adjusted her products to feature cold-hearty plants and Christmas items, but how much product adjusting can you do at a frozen-yogurt shop to convince shoppers to eat an ice-cold snack on an ice-cold day?

"It is a lot more difficult in the cold months," said Valerie Postma, manager at Yogurt Lab. "We've started offering coffee and tried to make our flavors of yogurt more unique and our toppings as well. Trying to draw people in just for the new and exciting things instead of the common ones that everybody else offers."

It looks to be working with the thermometer in the 30's, we still saw a line for the yogurt.

"It's kind of a learn as we go kind of thing," Postma said.

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