Rapid winds and retail.
Its been a pretty rough few days, John Wolf, a market manager for Walmart, said Monday, reflecting on the thunderstorm that left six of the retailers northeast Indiana stores without power. Were all back up and running now, but it was hard with (workers) trying to take care of their personal needs and helping out at the store as well.
Even so, sales were brisk in Fort Wayne. Customers flocked to stores to snatch up ice, water, coolers, charcoal and propane tanks, batteries, lantern lamp oil, flashlights, car chargers for cellphones and, well, you get the point.
Its been crazy, thats for sure, said Robyn Little, executive assistant of sales for Home City Ice of Cincinnati, which supplies various stores in the region. Weve been bringing in ice from surrounding states to guarantee supply. Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia are where we pulled from for Fort Wayne and other areas hit by the storms.
Residents looking to keep their food from spoiling, medicine chilled and other purposes easily made ice the hottest item over the weekend, retailers said.
We havent seen any sales numbers, but its too soon to tell, Little said. This is usually a busy time for us anyway with the Fourth of July, so we definitely will be up from last year.
Dennis Daily is the store director for the Meijer store on Illinois Road. He said sales for storm-related merchandise have started to slow since many residents are regaining power in their homes. Fridays late-afternoon storm had winds up to 91 mph and left thousands of people – and businesses – without electricity in the region.
Friday night and all day Saturday were busy, Daily said, adding that some of the stores business may have resulted from neighboring retailers suffering outages. By Sunday, it was back to normal because a lot of people started to get their power back.
It wasnt all dollars and cents, though.
Walmart assisted volunteers in the city by transporting ice and also donated bottled water. Wolf said the company was hurt like everyone else.
We had to have six refrigerated semi-trucks to store the food products and keep them at the proper temperature, he said. We lost a lot (of business) overall the cost is pretty substantial.
The Lowes outlet, also on Illinois Road, sold generators mostly ranging from $549 to $1,300. Store manager LaTasha Johnson said company policy prohibits her from discussing sales specifics, but lets just say that there was a great demand. In fact, she still recommended customers call ahead before seeking to buy a generator.
Yeah, that would be a good idea, Johnson said.