A line stretched out of The Chestnut Hill Coffee Co. into the rain early Tuesday. (Photo by Paula M. Riley)

by Sue Ann Rybak

Chestnut Hill looked like a ghost town on Monday morning as Hurricane Sandy’s wrath slowly descended on Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.

The shops along the Avenue sat dark and empty including Staples, McDonalds and Starbucks. One of the only stores open on the Hill was Kilian’s Hardware, 8450 Germantown Ave. Mary Kay Bahner, who has worked at the store for about 16 years, said business was “so-so” yesterday.

“People were walking up and down the Avenue looking to see who was open,” Bahner said.

Bahner said people were asking for D batteries and flashlights, but the store ran out of its supply before the storm.

“People were looking for generators, but we don’t sell generators,” she said. “The big sellers yesterday were batteries and propane.”

Bahner said Kilian’s originally planned to stay open until 11 a.m., but when the wind didn’t pick up they decided to stay open until 4 p.m.

“By 4 p.m., we said let’s go because you don’t know what it’s going to like out there,” she said.

Coming into work on Tuesday morning was much more difficult. Trees were down across the neighborhood, closing sections of Stenton Avenue, West Willow Grove Avenue and Rex Avenue. Bahner, who commutes from Wyncote said the road in was particularly difficult.

“Willow Grove Avenue from Cheltenham Avenue to Flourtown Avenue was closed due to power outages, so I had to take a detour,” Bahner said, “but I got here.”

Bahner said Kilian’s opened at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and business had been none stop all morning.
“People are calling on the phone and saying ‘Oh, you’re open,’” Bahner said, who doesn’t recall the store ever closing due to weather.

One customer came in to buy a chainsaw while the Local was there.

“I guess there must have been some damage on their property,” Bahner said. “You never know what tree is going to come down.”

Weavers Way Co-op, 8424 Germantown Ave., also opened on Tuesday around 8:30 a.m.

Employee Erin Harrington said the store hasn’t been extremely busy. But she added that there has been “a steady stream of people, who lost power that have been coming in” to purchase items like milk and other perishables.

“We are pretty much the only ones here who didn’t lose their power,” Harrington said. “Thank God.”

While the majority of stores along the Avenue didn’t lose power, several Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy residents did.

Kristina Victoreen was one of them. She was glad Chestnut Hill Coffee Co., 8620 Germantown Ave. was open Tuesday morning.

While standing in the line that went out the door of the coffee shop, she commented about not having any electricity in her house.

“Not having light or computer access is one thing, but I want my coffee,” Victoreen said. “That was the worst thing for me when I got up this morning – no coffee. I have no power in my house but now that I am going to have coffee I will be happy.”