Orlando residents hunkered down as Hurricane Matthew took aim at Florida on Thursday, preparing for the storm by stocking up on food, water and, much to Tim Varan's delight, wine.
The owner of Orlando-based Tim's Wine Market, which has several other franchised locations throughout the state, said through Thursday afternoon he was up 21 percent week-over-week from last year's sales. The shop sells wine for as little as $8 a bottle, up into the thousands for high-end brands.
"I don't want to have a hurricane every month, but it is interesting to see the response people have, and encouraging that people go into these things and think 'we will get through this, drink our sorrows away or celebrate surviving the hurricane,'" Varan said, adding that his franchised store in Windermere, Fla., had its biggest sales day of the year on Thursday.
It's a pattern he's seen over the past 21 years, recalling that during Hurricane Charley in 2004 he had an August with sales up 10 percent over the average month. "We stayed busy after that storm because no one had power, the restaurants weren't open, so people were coming in to buy wine to have at home," he said.
Varan's sales spike, however, will reverse since he closed Friday, which is typically his busiest day of the week. He also has to safeguard his small business just like anyone who finds themselves in the way of the storm.
"We have our windows treated with film so they won't shatter, and also have offsite data storage," he says. "Other than that, we make sure the insurance policy is paid up and we walk away."