Power outage hurts Saturday sales
April 21, 2009
Dozens of businesses closed temporarily on Saturday afternoon from about 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. because of a power outage in the middle of a busy shopping day.
According to the Rocky Mountain Power spokesman David Eskelsen, a failure in a major circuit breaker near St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City caused the problem. The spark ignited mineral oil in the breaker and caused a fire and substantial damage. The line that goes up to Summit County was tripped off by the smoke automatically, he said.
Many shopping areas, including Walmart at Kimball Junction, shut down during the outage. Kelly Cheeseman, corporate spokesperson, said they were able to let customers already in the store check out, but had to close the doors for three hours.
Whole Foods Market at the Junction also shut down. Operationally, the registers wouldn’t work, but it was also for the safety of customers and workers, explained store team leader Jeff Gonzalez.
"It was important for us to focus on getting reopened so people had a place to shop," he said.
Silver Mountain Sports Club lost about two-thirds of their expected sales that day after sending clients home and closing their doors for safety reasons, said Karen Roberts.
Recommended Stories For You
Almost 90 stores at the Tanger Outlet Center closed for a few hours. One of the few to stay open, Crocs, lost about half their sales because the closures emptied the center, said manager Sara Jones.
"It messed up our afternoon rush," she said. "People thought the mall was closed."
That irked people at the Best Western Landmark Inn attending a banquet that evening. A large group of women received coupons for Dressbarn from the banquet organizers and the power went off while they were in the store, said Landmark Inn marketing and sales director Cindy Galli.
A few of the hotel’s guests that day were people from Salt Lake City up at the Junction for a get-away. She had to issue them certificates to return another day.
"No one wants to play in a city with no power," she said.
Other guests were encouraged to visit Main Street, which was unaffected by the outage, she said.
At least it was during the day, Galli added. The last outage a few months ago occurred at a time of night when many of her guests were packing their suitcases to leave. After that, the staff purchased several flashlights for guests.
Outages happen, Galli said, but it’s unreasonable that the last two have lasted for several hours.
Jana Becvar, manager at the pizzeria Davanza’s at the Junction, lost her entire lunch crowd and several dinner orders. She sent her staff home and told the evening shift to not come until she called.
The last outage hit right during dinner rush, she said.
The length of the outage was due to the substantial amount of work it takes to reroute that much power safely, Eskelsen said. He wasn’t sure of the cause of the failure and said it was not a normal occurrence.
Because power is a public utility, accepting the possibility of these kinds of problems is part of the usage agreement, Eskelsen said.
There’s not recourse businesses can take to be compensated for lost sales.
"Because of the nature of electricity, we can’t guarantee uninterrupted service," he said.