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Market Has Expanded Freezer

The Rockwood Market on Spokane’s South Hill should be stuffed with customers the day before Thanksgiving.

Instead, the small neighborhood grocery at 315 E. 18th is cold and dark, deserted but for owner Tim McGee and two employees.

“This should be the second- or third-busiest day of the year,” McGee said. “Both sides of the street should be lined with cars. There should be about eight people standing at the meat counter.”

There should have been - but there wasn’t Wednesday morning, when only an occasional customer wandered into the market.

Rockwood lost power Nov. 19 when the ice storm robbed nearly 100,000 homes and businesses of electricity.

All but 15,000 have had their power restored, but not the market.

A readerboard outside said “Open. Got turkeys. Pray 4 power.” A Pepsi clock - barely visible in the candlelight - marked the grocery’s fateful hour.

“Ten minutes of two last Tuesday,” said an amazingly chipper McGee. “We’re on Week Two.”

McGee knows he’s lost several thousand dollars’ worth of meats and other dated goods to the blackout.

Inside McGee’s meat cooler, 110 turkeys - tied with twine and decorated with parsley - waited patiently for pick-up Wednesday morning.

“All this natural refrigeration I have,” said McGee with a grin. “The coolers are running about 34 degrees. That’s ideal storage.”

By afternoon, all but a few turkeys had gone home with customers. It was McGee’s busiest day since the storm.

But it wasn’t enough to save the market from a devastating loss. “You think it’s cold in here?” said George Creighton, the market’s former owner, holding a bottle of peanut oil that’s turned from gold to a milky white. “It used to be a liquid,” said McGee. “Now it’s a solid.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo