Winter storm takes a toll on local businesses
Carolina Outdoors was expecting a truckload of 50 chain saws on Monday, and it couldn't come soon enough.
The store, a local provider of lawn equipment, hasn't been able to keep chain saws on the shelves. Owner Butch Robertson said he even had a waiting list of 30 to 40 people champing at the bit to buy a chain saw. The chain saws to be delivered came from Virginia and were driven to Aiken from Columbia.
“We're here,” he said. “We want to make sure people are getting taken care of.”
While chain saws were flying off the shelves at Carolina Outdoors, food stuffs were being plucked off the shelves and thrown into the trash at other businesses across Aiken County.
Bill Hamilton, the owner of Midway Grill in Warrenville, said on Monday he had been without power since Wednesday of last week. Without electricity to power the restaurant's refrigerators and freezers, food was left to spoil.
“All the food has gone bad; I've just lost it all. I've lost, food wise, probably $8,000,” Hamilton said. “I have really good relationships with my customers, and they all understand. But a lot of them don't have power and can't eat.”
Hamilton was not pleased that his competition had power and streets surrounding his business had power, yet he was left in the dark.
“SCE&G is doing everything they can ... but response time was just terrible, “ he said. During a phone interview with the Aiken Standard, a work crew arrived. “I'm hoping to get my power going in two to three hours so my crew can come in.”
Business owners each have a different view of the ice storm's impact. Mary O'Hare, the owner of M.B Jewelry & Beads downtown, said the trick is finding the silver lining. Yes, the fact that her business was closed for several days due to the weather will impact her bottom line, “but even through all the inconvenience, nobody lost their life,” she said.
Another thread in her silver lining is that when the tree in the sidewalk in front of her store was uprooted under the weight of ice, it fell onto Laurens Street and not on her building.
“That could have been the end of me,” O'Hare said. “I'm just concerned for the continued safety of the community. Sometimes it's not about the money; this is one of those times.”
Haley Hughes is the news editor for the Aiken Standard. She joined the newspaper in 2007. and covered the Aiken County government until her promotion in 2013. Hughes, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, hails from Knoxville, Tenn.