Jul 30, 2014
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Power Outages Bad for Many Businesses, Good for Some

Restaurants fill as residents go without power at home, and blackout supplies fly off store shelves.

Power Outages Bad for Many Businesses, Good for Some

As power is slowly restored in Southampton Town, some fortunate areas have benefited from never losing electricity — including Bridgehampton and Southampton Village's Main Streets.

But having the lights on simply isn't enough to return to normalcy for many businesses. There are certain things area residents are desperate for during a blackout, and other products and services that apparently can wait.

At Thayer's Hardware & Patio in Bridgehampton, flashlights, lanterns and batteries have flown off the shelves. Many items have sold out, and the store was down to a few dozen D batteries and a couple Maglites left as of Thursday morning.

Employee Owen Barbour said that it could be a couple days before certain products are restocked, because not only is Thayer's selling out of them, but so are the wholesale suppliers.

Barbour said that though there was a slow start to hurricane-supply sales on Friday, business really picked up Monday. "Everything was sold out pretty quick," he said.

There was one shipment since Monday so far, and another expected Friday with more flashlights and Shop-Vacs.

"It's kind of like scrapping the bottom of the barrel of what they had left," Barbour said of the suppliers.

Shop-Vacs and sump pumps have sold well, according to Barbour, but he pointed out that many people who had flooding at their homes also lost power, so unless they have generators they can't use the machines.

Some customers who never lost power or didn't experience much damage tried to return products such as flashlights and tarps, Barbour said, but they were not accepted. There are no returns on storm merchandise. "We don't rent tools, we don't rent flashlights," he said.

Barbour said there was a steady stream of customers on Tuesday, though the uptick in business has tapered off since then.

At Pierre's, a Main Street restaurant in Bridgehampton, business has been booming as residents who can't cook at home due to not having any power look for a hot meal.

Owner Pierre Weber said the only time the restaurant closed all week was Monday night, so the employees could get home before the worst of the storm. But the restaurant was back open on Tuesday for breakfast, and power was never lost.

Many who woke up without power saw the lights were on at Pierre's and came down to charge up their phones and computers, and to eat, Weber said. The rush continued all day into the night, but the kitchen was not fully stocked because the storm had canceled deliveries, he said. "As the night was going, we were running out of chicken and lobster and meat."

Weber said he feels very fortunate to have the power on at his business and home, so he can provide a service to the community when they really need it, and his heart goes out to those hardest hit by the storm. "These poor people, their lives are turned upside down," he said.

Paul Orenstein, an East Hampton resident and the owner of Hampton Briggs Antiques in Bridgehampton, said the Hamptons were lucky that it did not get hit with as much rain as other areas. Rainsoaked ground combined with 80-mile-per-hour winds would have meant more trees toppling, he said.

He reopened his store Thursday morning, but by around noon no one had come there to shop. People are preoccupied with a lot of other things post-storm besides shopping, he said.

Scott Harrison, the owner of Harrison Pictures & Framing, next door to Hampton Briggs Antiques, said he hasn't seen one customer all week.

Marty O'Neill, an Ocean Road resident who came to charge her phone and visit Orenstein and Harrison Thursday morning, said she had been getting takeout from Pierre's for three meals a day since she lost power during the storm. But her home is still standing and there was no water damage, she said.

"A lot of water came up from the ocean and Sam's Creek," O'Neill said. While she is still without power, she said it is just an inconvenience, and she counts herself as blessed.

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