Power knocked out by Friday night’s violent derecho was restored to the shopping center Tuesday about 1 p.m. The Hollin Hall Safeway was open for business, but the store was not stocking most perishable items.
The variety store was out of power when the store opened Saturday, but staff left the doors open and let sunlight fill the store, said owner Doug Bentley. The store had no air conditioning, and cash registers were not working.
“We’d walk around with flashlights, and we’d be your personal shopper,” he said with a smile.
Cashiers operated out of a cash drawer using calculators, “like the old days,” Bentley said. The store was not able to process credit cards but allowed for those purchases by taking down the card number.
“People were grateful that we were open,” he said. “They were buying everything, mainly things to keep themselves cool and for the kids to play with, batteries, things like that, little supplies for things. Also candy—things to pick up their spirits.”
The store also saw brisk business in the sale of small backyard pools, he said.
The variety store closed when sunlight faded Saturday evening. They reopened Sunday and were graced with power for several hours before a nearby transformer blew, leaving the store with partial power but no air conditioning.
The store stayed open due to financial considerations, Bentley said, but also to provide for the community. “The other thing is supporting the neighborhood," he said.
At the hardware store, manager Steve McCann said store staff worked through the outage without air conditioning or phone or Internet service. The store stayed open as a matter of principle, he said.
“We’re always open here at Village Hardware,” he said. “We don’t close. We’re open. We were waiting on customers with flashlights all throughout the store.”
The hardware store sold out of chainsaws in the first few hours it was open Saturday, McCann said. The store also quickly sold out of the few generators it had in stock. Batteries and extension cords were other popular items.
One customer even bought a barbecue grill to cook on during the outage, he said.
Other local businesses didn’t fare as well without electricity. On Tuesday, the Hollin Hall Pastry Shop sent out an email titled: “The storm won …”. According to the email, the pastry shop will be closed indefinitely.
The shop was forced to throw away all inventory and supplies, the email stated. “We are waiting for the insurance people to do whatever it is they have to do, then we can concentrate on reopening,” the email continued.
Hopefully, that won’t be too long, the email noted.