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Winter storm takes toll on southwest Baltimore County businesses

"In my case, it's too cold -- no one is out and misbehaving,"

Small businesses in southwest Baltimore County are feeling the strain of Thursday's winter storm, with the heavy snowfall making travel difficult and causing some shops to close early. 

Ned Atwater, owner of Atwater's Bakery, which has six stores, including one in Catonsville on Frederick Road, said the messy weather predicted by forecasters to drop 4 to 8 inches of snow by the end of the day is affecting his bottom line.

"It's killing us -- we have to just make the best of it," Atwater said. The shop in Catonsville closed its doors at 11 a.m.

"We're having trouble getting staff in, and we may have a hard time baking bread for tomorrow night," Atwater said. 

Earlier Thursday morning, Chuck Quick, owner of the Village Junction Bakery and Cafe in Arbutus, said his business sees more foot traffic before the snow and afterward.

"Baked goods fall along the lines of milk, bread and toilet paper," Quick said, adding that weather doesn't have much of an impact on the bakery. 

Still Quick said the bakery was closing at noon instead of 6 p.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter weather advisory that is in effect until 7 p.m.

The weather prompted the Baltimore County public school system to close for the day, along with the Community College of Baltimore County and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 

The county's Department of Public Works has crews deployed countywide salting and plowing roads, according to county spokeswoman Lauren Watley. 

However, visibility has been reduced to one-quarter of a mile at times, making road travel dangerous, NWS said in the advisory. 

Wayne McDowell, president of the Lansdowne Business and Professional Association, owner of McDowell's Complete Chimney Service, said the last two months have taken a toll on his business.

"For me personally, it's really impacting my business," McDowell said. "The last two months have been tough because we've had so many incidents with the snow, which makes it hard for our guys to climb on ladders and do their work."

McDowell, who has 10 employees, said he's optimistic that spring will bring more business.

"I envision it will be a good spring for us, because a lot of people are using their wood stoves and fireplaces. His company cleans fireplaces, wood and pellet stoves, and oil and gas furnaces, according to their website.

Bettina Tebo, owner of Abbey Bail Bonds, and president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, said the weather also affects her bail bonding business. 

"In my case, it's too cold -- no one is out and misbehaving," Tebo said. 

When travel becomes a challenge, many Catonsville businesses are forced to close early, said Teal Cary, executive director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm sure it's going to have an impact on some folks," Cary said. "I know it's tough for businesses to go through this."

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