Eclipse business: Both good and bad
Several local restaurants said they prepared for droves of eclipse customers, who never materialized, while other stores reported business was booming.
"We have no complaints and are as happy as can be. The city put on a great show!" said Garry Boyd of Great Earth Café and Deli, when contacted last week.
He said they didn't get as many customers as they expected until Saturday through Monday.
"But that didn't diminish the experience for us and our staff. I'm proud of our community, and so many people told me how friendly this town was," Boyd said. As for their leftover supplies, he said, "We're looking forward to the air show and after that the MAC Dash."
At Black Bear Diner, owner Joe Davis said Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the eclipse were slow, things picked up on Saturday, and then they got slammed.
"Sunday blew our socks off! I'll never have another day like that again; we had an incredible amount of business," Davis said.
Davis said he was left with two weeks of extra inventory. "We did $20,000 less business than I projected, but I'm very happy with the business I did, and we have the air show this weekend. I'm excited about the way this all worked out," he said last week.
Other businesses stocked up, but few customers arrived.
"The total business we were expecting did not deliver, because the people were camping and brought food with them," noted Erickson's Thriftway owner Dan Walston. "All they needed was something to keep it cold. We sold eight of our 16 pallets of bottled water, and all of our ice, which is five times what we normally carry."
He said the store was overstaffed and he had to send workers home early, except for Sunday. The upside was on eclipse day. "We closed from 9-11 a.m., and I got to sit out in the parking lot with some of my employees and watch it," Walston said.
Jennifer DuPont at Wild Winds Station said, "We overprepared for all the people we thought would be coming. Several customers said people were scared off by media reports that Madras had bumper-to-bumper traffic, not enough food, and we didn't have fuel at the gas stations."
Luckily, she said their food vendors worked well with them and took back some of the inventory, but they were left with a lot of hamburger and hot dog buns.
Local residents also helped. "I'm amazed at how supportive the community has been. People started coming out and supporting the local businesses. They offered to buy flats of our tomatoes and some of the bread," she said, noting they were holding a Customer Appreciation and Solar Survival Celebration Saturday, Aug. 26.
The Desert Inn, in Metolius, reported the same thing. Employee Sarah Kryla said, "We didn't even get half the people we expected, but those who came stayed all day and enjoyed the free shuffle board, live music, horse shoes and other games. Many locals also decided to come check us out -- the community really did a great job," she said of the support.
In Culver at the Round Butte Inn, owner Greg Foland said, "Business was not good. We sold less during the (concurrent) Crawdad Fest than we did the year before. Friday was pretty busy, but when we looked around, it was mostly locals. We have a lot of food left and will be running some specials."
Meanwhile, back in downtown Madras, Raul Arriaga at Rio Restaurant reported, "It was crazy. We had 10 times the business. We never saw that before; there was a steady line all the time waiting for tables. He hired seven extra servers to help wait tables.
Next door, Wild Bleu owners Rebecca Keegan and Jen Schaffner said they had 20 times their usual business.
"It was awesome. We're using the money we generated to purchase new things already – a TV for fall sports, sound system, and new shades," Schaffner said, as workers were installing the new items.
"Sunday was our busiest day by far; there was a line out the door and up the stairs. News media from KOIN Channel 6, CBS National News, and news reporters from Eugene, Bend and Seattle chose this place to hang out," Keegan said, adding they were interviewed by the Portland TV news.
Across the street at Studio on Fifth, artwork was popular. "We sold postcards, eclipse jewelry, T-shirts, and three carvings. We sold more in the eclipse period of time than we sold all last year," said co-owner, woodcarver and Madras Mayor Royce Embanks.
White Buffalo Boutique owner Angie Ludi said, "It was so fun; I'm still trying to catch my breath."
Ludi was interviewed by seven different media groups at her tiny shop, and kept a guest book that was signed by people from Hawaii to Austria.
"Saturday and Sunday were the busiest; we worked 10-11 hours, and people are still trickling in," Ludi said last Friday.
"We sold out of a lot of local artists eclipse products, and sold all my dad's eclipse jewelry that he made. It also drove in a lot of locals, because there was so much going on downtown. A third of the customers were from Madras," she said.