Businesses in Prineville, Oregon, are still humming with customers as the Symbiosis Festival winds down after Monday’s eclipse.
But many shops in the path of totality were left with a lot of extra inventory.
Miranda Slack and Justine Brinkley are still selling eclipse T-shirts outside the 76 gas station in town. But they dropped the price from $20 to $5 when they realized they’d only sold about half of the 30,000 shirts in stock.
“Now we are just trying to sell them because we have way too many,” Slack said.
“Way too many,” Brinkley added. “And we have nothing to do with them after.”
The Symbiosis Festival brought more than 30,000 people through Prineville on their way to Big Summit Prairie, where they celebrated the eclipse in the middle of the Ochoco National Forest.
“So, we thought maybe we have enough,” Slack said. “But then it turned out to be too many.”
Business owners there said media reports of traffic jams and wildfire evacuations seemed to scare everyone away from town.
“It was really, oddly slow,” said Shey Samson, manager of Melvin’s First Street Market in Sisters. “We were expecting a pretty heavy amount of sales, but nobody really showed up. We ordered a massive amount of produce.”
She suspects people packed up their food before heading to their camp spots on the path of totality. Only after the eclipse did things start to pick up, she said.
“Today’s the busy day,” she said Tuesday. “Now everybody’s returning and ready to get back to normal. This is such a rare event that we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t know how to prepare for it.”
Many businesses in Sisters found themselves over-prepared for the number of visitors that stopped in.
“It wasn’t as crazy as we thought it was gonna be,” said Drew Herburger, owner of Trail Stop Market in Sisters. “The media in the [Willamette] Valley definitely over-hyped how scary it was to come through here. The locals didn’t come out thinking it was gonna be crazy, and the tourists didn’t show up thinking it was gonna be burning down.”
The evacuations ordered for the 11,000-acre Milli wildfire in the Three Sisters Wilderness on Friday affected about 600 people in several subdivisions outside of town. On Tuesday, downtown Sisters was a bit smoky but still open for business.
Herburger said he felt lucky because he only stocked up on things he knew he could sell later – like beer and cigarettes.
That wasn’t the case up the street at the Depot Cafe, where owner Pam Wavrin decided to buy extra food for the eclipse. Though business was picking up on Tuesday, she said it was clear that media reports of traffic and wildfires had kept many of the expected visitors away.
“I stocked up like I was stocking up for Armageddon,” she said. “I probably got 20 turkeys where I’d normally have 10 for the weekend. I got a lot of burgers, a lot of bread. I have enough cheddar cheese to feed a colony of mice for a long time.”
Wavrin will freeze what she can, and has been looking for other ways to use up the extra food. She provided lunches for evacuees and plans on donating some to the food bank.
“We’re used to having big events in town, but this one is so unknown,” she said. “We were just guessing, and we were way, way off. I think a lot of people were.”