I was just sitting down to write a column for this space on Friday morning when the all too familiar and eerie silence happened suddenly. The fan in my window stopped and I heard the faint “click” of our home losing all electricity.
“That can’t be good,” I thought to myself. Home alone on a Friday with two little boys and no electricity. No internet for me to catch up on things from home. Oh, dear.
My husband texted me and asked if we just lost power. We don’t get much for data service on our cellphones at home, so I had already gone out to the car and tuned into KMNT 104.3 to hear the update from Ryan Trotter and Kevin the Brit.
“Yep. Bonneville Power issue again. All of west LewCo is out,” I responded to my husband.
The annual Centralia Antique Fest was about to get underway in downtown Centralia — with all of downtown out of power. Yikes.
When the power came back on a while later, I cracked open my laptop to catch up on what I missed while I was disconnected. There were the typical frustrations and complaints from friends and business owners about the impediments caused by lack of power.
But what was probably the most fun was seeing how some local businesses used the outage as an opportunity to connect with their digital and social audiences and remind their potential customers of various outage-related products they had available — or simply that they were still open and “powering through.”
Boistfort Firefighters Association reminded followers that “when the power goes out, all stop lights become stop sign.”
Sparkles n Spurs Boutique in the Centralia Outlets reminded followers of the traffic headaches created by lack of stoplights, telling customers to “shop online from home” and avoid the traffic mess in town.
If you were willing to brave the traffic, Los Constenos at Yard Birds was open and running. Lack of electricity didn’t stop tacos or burritos from being served.
Title Guaranty Company took the opportunity to host a parking lot cornhole tournament. There was even talk of realtors versus team TGC. I wondered if they invited the Lewis County PUD staff from across the street, too, since the power outage wasn’t on their end.
Scheduled surgeries were delayed at some local veterinary offices, though many remained open. But Rolling Hills Veterinary Hospital in Winlock continued surgery by flashlight! They posted a great photo of a vet tech recording surgery using the LED flashlight function on her phone.
Lucy Page, Nia instructor at Embody Movement Studio in downtown Centralia, held dance fitness classes by candlelight with a wireless speaker. “If you’re late, sneak in,” she encouraged. Would have been a great opportunity if you were downtown stuck waiting on electricity.
Let’s Play Something in Fairway Center took the opportunity to remind their customers about their selection of board games and kids’ “squeeze to recharge” LED flashlights. “No batteries required and just $4.99 each,” they proudly proclaimed.
Cen-Che Centralia-Chehalis Vacuum & Sewing Center advertised their battery-powered vacuum units in stock. I actually didn’t even know that was a thing, so I found that impressive.
Kaci Jones, a local licensed massage therapist at the Keysar Center in Centralia, pointed out that you could still enjoy a fantastic massage in complete silence and natural daylight. I mean, if I was stuck at the office during a power outage and saw that … what better way to spend a power outage than a massage?
Man Cave Outfitters in Centralia remained open to “power through” the outage for customer pickups, simply reminding them “cash only” until power was restored.
Shakespeare & Company: Coffee and Used Books added their own flair to encourage business during the outage, saying that the “power is out in Che-hay-hay, but we’re open! Come in for an iced coffee, a house-made lemonade, a delicious pastry and/or a great read.”
Grinders Espresso in Winlock was giving out free cold brew coffee during the outage, first come, first serve.
As a marketing professional, it was really refreshing to see local businesses take the outage as a opportunity to connect with their audiences and as a way to highlight something interesting a positive about themselves.
Just by browsing my newsfeed today, I was learning all kinds of new things about local businesses — because they saw the outage as an opportunity.
Keep that up, local businesses. Way to adapt, capitalize, and thrive!
Brittany Voie is a columnist for The Chronicle. She lives south of Chehalis with her husband and two young sons. She welcomes correspondence from the community at firstname.lastname@example.org.