Power cut hammers lunchtime takings

By Tessa Johnstone

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Dozens of retailers had to close their doors and lost thousands of dollars in business after a lunchtime power cut hit central Masterton.

About 400 customers, many on the east side of Queen St, were disconnected due to a fault on Powerco's electricity network, the cause of which was still to be determined.

Powerco was unable to specify which streets were affected, though it was at least as far east as Masterton Police Station, which also lost power.

Powerco network operations manager Phil Marsh said the fault occurred about 12.40pm and crews had restored supply to all but 100 properties within an hour, though some customers were out until 4pm.

Some Queen St retailers said the power came on after an hour for about 15 minutes, then went off again before being restored.

Food for Thought owner Yvonne McNeil couldn't put a figure on what the blackout cost them, but said the power cut had disrupted lunchtime trading significantly because they couldn't use eftpos.

"We kept the doors open, but we couldn't make any of those wonderful cappuccinos and lovely lattes.

People walked in and walked out, because they couldn't get a coffee and there was no eftpos." Ms McNeil said they kept an anxious eye on the cabinets and fridges while waiting for the power to return, and had to throw a small amount of food away.

Zest Cafe owner Rachel Keene said the two-hour power cut was "very irritating" and cost the business between $200 and $300 in lost trade. Ms Keene said they were unable to use eftpos facilities and unable to cook meals, though the cafe's make-your-own sandwiches were a saving grace.

"People were understanding and in good spirits about it, but you're very restricted as to what you can do."

Toyworld manager Marie-Therese Evans was forced to close the store for about an hour-and-a-half until the power was restored.

"We couldn't do anything, it just means you're down on sales ... it's very frustrating, and it's not the first time, and I know last year it was on the lead up to Christmas too."

Several retailers reported the power cut was the third in as many years, usually about the same time of year.

Internet cafe CompWorks Wairarapa was out for about an hour, which owner Wayne Towgood said lost him about three customers and time spent fixing computers, though the Countdown supermarket next door was unaffected by the problem.

Seekers Megamart closed its doors too, along with nearby Festival Hire Wairarapa, where power was not restored until 3.45pm.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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