Heat wave aftermath: businesses recovering from power outage

(Abigale Racine/News Advocate) Eddie Scott stood by his beachfront store, Eddie D’s Beach and Eat, Wednesday night to ensure that the generator wouldn’t fail and his $4,000 worth of inventory would be safe

MANISTEE COUNTY – Wednesday’s power outage caused local businesses to throw themselves into full throttle.

The outage that left 4,300 people without electricity for nearly 12 hours, forced business owners and operators to think quickly on their feet to preserve their products.

“It’s hard to tell the exact amount, but we lost several hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise,” said Wes Kimbel, store director at Olsen’s grocery store. “We pulled everything that needed to be (refrigerated) in the walk-in freezer, and we shut up the store tight. Anything that was compromised, we got rid of.”

When the power went out around 1:30 in the afternoon, some businesses realized that their product was compromised, no matter the effort, and ice cream stores went into meltdown, quite literally.

Vincent’s Ice Cream Shop in downtown Manistee had lines exceeding past their doors as it gave away its entire stock, more than 100 gallons of ice cream.

“We tried to make the best of a bad situation,” said Mary Ellen Vincent, business owner. “We figured it might as well not go to waste, and we have nothing left.”

Vincent’s Ice Cream Shop will be closed until its stock will be replenished.

Manistee’s Dairy Queen lost all of its novelty items – Dilly bars, Buster bars and ice cream sandwiches – due to the outage.

“We lost a lot of service because of the loss, and customers turned us away,” said Dairy Queen manager Paige Burchard. “We ended up closing at 7 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.”

While beautiful weather can be a blessing to a business, too much of a good thing can also be a curse.

Eddie Scott of Eddie D’s Beach and Eat at Fifth Avenue Beach said that the heat has both encouraged and discouraged his waterfront business.

“(Business) has been really good. The year started off rough, but when the heat wave came in, people came for the water,” said Scott. “When the power went off, that really hurt me.”

In efforts to save his $4,000 worth of inventory Scott rented a generator, the very last one that Grand Rental Station had available. To ensure that his products were safe and sound and the generator didn’t fail, Scott slept in his store.

“I’ve never been in this kind of situation before, and everyone was in a scramble. I got lucky and besides this incident, business has been wonderful,” said Scott.

The handful of businesses that did have electricity Wednesday night had to cater to an overwhelming crowd of customers.

“It was actually my day off,” said Chrissy Hunt, a manager at Burger King, one of the few businesses that was not affected by the power outage. “I was driving to the gas station and I saw how nuts (Burger King) was, so I called in, and came in for a couple of hours to help out. The drive-through had a line of cars going all the way out to the highway, and it was nonstop. I could barely get out of the parking lot when I left.”

Business people concur that it is impossible to conduct businesses perfectly when faced with circumstances as extreme and uncontrollable as was the case on Wednesday, but the only thing to do is put the best foot forward.

“We do what we can do,” said Kimbel.

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