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Power outage hurts Lewisburg businesses

Chris Dorst
Rikki Peters, manager of Wolf Creek Gallery in downtown Lewisburg, keeps the shop door open to cool off. She is one of many business owners in the area worried that the power won't be restored in time for the Greenbrier Classic rush of people.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. --  Rikki Peters, manager of Wolf Creek Gallery in downtown Lewisburg, couldn't wait for The Greenbrier Classic to roll around.

"Last year, it was so great for the area. We were really excited about this year. It's sad," she said. "We've taken a devastating blow."

The Greenbrier Classic usually means booming business for the quaint restaurants and boutiques that fill Lewisburg, which was named the "Coolest Small Town in America by a travel company in 2011.

But this year is a different story.

Peters is one of many business owners who can't operate in the area due to prolonged power outages from Friday's massive storms.

"We're ready to open the doors as soon as we have power. We may even open without power," she said.

Wolf Creek mostly offers clothing and may be able to function without power despite the heat. But the store will be accepting only cash or checks.

"It will definitely be difficult, but we'll do it," Peters said.

More than 50 percent of the shops and restaurants in the downtown area remain without power as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Lewisburg Downtown Business Association President Tamera Pence.

Restaurants, which typically benefit the most during the golf event, were hit the hardest. Many suffered spoiled food losses.

"Visitors like to shop here because it's so diverse and unique. We're not your typical West Virginia small town," Pence said. "We're all doing the best we can to keep things rolling. That's just who we are."

The Stardust Café is one of Lewisburg's most popular restaurants, Pence said, and regained power around noon on Tuesday, just in time to welcome tourists visiting The Greenbrier.

"We're scrambling right now," said Stardust owner Elizabeth Destiny. "The Greenbrier has been extremely generous with referrals in the past. I'm very impressed they pulled the event together, and if the power stays on, we hope to continue to deliver top-notch service and give our customers a wonderful time."

Just down the street from the Stardust Café, the outage has had a different impact on business.

The Greenbrier Valley Baking Company quickly sold out of an assortment of pastries Tuesday morning.

"We're one of the few places with power. We can't keep our cases full ... [and] just keep selling out of everything," said employee Laken Shires. "We're doing pretty well to have just had our grand opening."

Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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