Osborn's Keeps the Lights On
With a new generator in place, retailer is anxious to take care of the neighborhood
DUXBURY, Mass. -- For perhaps the first time in his more than 30 years in the convenience store industry, retailer Mark MacFarlane is anxious for the power to go out at Osborn's Country Store. This time, the single-store retailer is ready for it, having installed in December a back-up Kohler power generator at the retail site in Duxbury, Mass., a small town about 35 miles south of Boston.
"At this point, we're waiting for that first storm to come in and make it pay for itself," MacFarlane said. "One storm would be pretty good."
MacFarlane, manager of the store, counts at least three storms, including Hurricane Sandy, in the past three years that knocked out power to the c-store for five days or more. While the small store in the past has used a small, portable generator to get the lights and register back on to sell necessities, it was never enough to remain 100% open for business.
"The beer wasn't cold. The milk went bad. All the frozen foods defrosted, and we had to throw them away," he said. "We're also a gas station; I'm sitting on 4,000 gallons worth of fuel that I can't pump out of the ground."
MacFarlane estimates a week without full power—including the sales loss, spoilage and fuel—adds up to a loss of well over $100,000. And there's another significant aspect for the independent Osborn's Country Store.
"We're very community oriented. We know almost everybody that comes in that door on a personal basis," MacFarlane said. "So when we lose power, it affects everybody, and we all come together. [After Hurricane Sandy], I was giving ice cream away. 'Here, take some home' [because it was going to go to waste]."
Fuel was also in great demand after Hurricane Sandy, and employees at Osborn's found themselves having to send customers away. "People would see the store was up and running and they would come in, but we'd have to tell them, 'We can't pump your gas.' "
With the new generator ready to kick in during the next power outage, MacFarlane is anxious for his store be a light in the darkness.
"It's a natural-gas-supplied, standby generator. It kicks in 7 seconds after the power goes out and keeps running until it's not needed anymore," he said. "With the new generator, hopefully we can take care of everybody."