Wind Storm No Match For Some Entrepreneurs

Power outages during the holiday shopping season is enough to send any business owner into a tailspin. Here’s how some of Sierra Madre’s entrepreneurs are coping.

Five days after the devastating wind storm swept through Sierra Madre and the San Gabriel Valley, about 2,700 homes and buildings were still without power. Many local businesses remained closed on Monday, and much of Sierra Madre Blvd. was still without power. Others were running on generators, and a few lucky ones had power restored.

Best Buy Drugs went into emergency mode on Thursday, the morning after the peak of the wind storm brought down trees and utility poles in Sierra Madre.

“We were able to open Thursday with limited availability, just kind of emergency-based… giving a couple days’ supply of medicine so that way people wouldn’t be without,” said Paul Mansour, a pharmacist at Best Buy Drugs.

“Then on Friday we had a generator, so we were able to open and fill prescriptions and help the community,” said Mansour. But the store still closed early on Thursday and Friday when the sun went down.

“Obviously there was a loss of business, but nothing compared with what people lost in terms of their homes,” said Mansour.

The Bottle Shop opened its doors Thursday with the help of a generator, and was able to provide ice to residents in town.

“It’s kind of hard because we don’t have a grocery store in town,” said Keith Olson, who works at The Bottle Shop. “Albertson’s [in Pasadena] was open but I heard it was crazy. I heard we had the only ice in town [Thursday.] But we ran out really quick because we didn’t have any power to the ice machine and it all melted."

The Bottle Shop’s power was restored on Saturday. Olson said the customer flow has been pretty normal, and that most people coming into the store just want to talk about their storm experience.

“Everybody was in pretty good spirits, because everybody was just kind of helping each other out,” said Olson.

A few doors down, The Only Place in Town restaurant was open and bustling with customers Monday.

“We rented a generator and got powered up Thursday night,” said Michael Kefalas, the restaurant’s owner. There are currently makeshift neon signs on its awning reiterating that the restaurant is open for business. Many of the restaurant’s neighbors are still closed.

“I did have a lot of customers of mine that are regulars that were coming in because… they had no heat, they couldn’t even take showers or whatnot, so they were definitely coming in and getting their fill of not only food but at least a little light,” said Kefalas.

Kefalas said that traffic had been busy at the restaurant since the storm. But other business owners are feeling the pinch.

“Any [shopping day] after Christmas is huge,” said Karen Keegan, owner of Savor the Flavor, which is currently stocked with an array of holiday gourmet treats and gifts. “So to lose two, two and a half days of business, you don’t really regain it… it’s just a loss.”

But Keegan, like many in Sierra Madre, seemed in good spirits. “It’s okay, nobody got hurt.”


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Photos: Widespread Wind Damage in Sierra Madre

Carroll Brown December 06, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Don't agree with the comment about Albertson's being "crazy." I was over there several times and the help was very efficient. The clerks were all so nice. They even let me recharge my cell phone there. :o)
Joe Ramsey December 09, 2011 at 01:52 PM
I think Keith meant crazy - busy... and I'm sure it was.


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