Ninth Street businesses lost electricity for an hour Tuesday morning, forcing some stores to close their doors during that time.
Shop owners were just beginning to open their stores when, at around 11:00 a.m., the power suddenly went out. Most of the small businesses do not have generators to maintain their power and calls were immediately made to Duke Energy, the street’s electricity provider. The company told owners the power would not return until 2 p.m., but at 12 p.m. it abruptly came back.
“It messed up everything,” said Antonio Rios, co-owner of Blue Corn Cafe. “We couldn’t do anything. We just opened the doors and waited until the electricity came back.”
This is not the first time Ninth Street has had its electricity cut off, and it is certainly not for the longest period of time. Rios cited a particular incident in the past year that had the restaurant lose electricity from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. Blue Corn Café was obligated to refrain from serving dinner that night and was not reimbursed for its lost business in any way by Duke Energy, Rios added.
Another popular Ninth Street eatery, Francesca’s Dessert Cafe, could not offer some of its services during the powerless hour but was able to serve hot teas, pastries and other items that did not need constant electricity to stay fresh, said Al Belmouloug, an employee.
For other businesses, the outage did not have as big of an impact. Both The Regulator—a bookstore—and Vaguely Reminiscent—a fashion boutique—experienced the outage almost immediately after opening but were able to keep their doors open to the public throughout the period.
Losing power did make financial transactions more difficult, noted Tom Campbell, the Regulator’s co-owner. Without electricity, Campbell resorted to using an old credit card machine the store had saved.
Karen Merowchek, a Vaguely Reminiscent employee, said the outage encouraged customers to use cash in paying for their purchases.
“We can’t run credit cards if the power is out so we said we can write down your credit card number and just charge you later,” Merowcheck said. “But the two people who bought something paid in cash, so it wasn’t a problem.”
Still, for all the hardships that come with losing electricity, some owners saw comedy in the situation. Although her store was not open for this particular occasion, April Chang, owner of PB Buttermilk’s—a vintage clothing store located beneath The Regulator—said that in the past outages have generally offered an interesting perspective on the way the world functions today.
“[With no electricity,] it becomes like an alternate reality,” Chang said. “This is what life would be like if we lived in the center of the Earth… everything is a little apocalyptic.”