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ICSC Western Division Conference – Blackout in San Diego

The ICSC Western Division 2011 conference was full of energy – until that energy went out. Literally.  The San Diego blackout on September 8th took the entire ICSC conference off the grid (not to mention the real damage done to the city, including sewage leaks and environmental damage).

So, what do you do when a massive black out affects the city you are attending a conference in?  I figure you have two choices:

  1. Party in the Dark
  2. Drive toward the light

I was one of the lucky ones that actually had option #2 as a viable option.  Others who flew in or were otherwise without transportation had no other choice but to wait it out……  wait it out for nearly 16 hours as it would turn out. 

As soon as the hotel announced that it would be giving out snacks and water in the lobby at 7 pm I made the choice to drive toward civilization as soon as nightfall hit.  I did however manage to go to one last networking event where the folks who had decided to wait it out were in pretty good spirits (I think the open bar helped). 

While the lights were still on, the energy and attendance at the ICSC Western Division conference was great – lots of networking and optimism about the near future of the retail industry.   Partner’s Mark Lambson, Director of Equity Advisory Services, was also interviewed Thursday by Globe Street, which will air here.

All of this excitement got me thinking….  How many companies experienced a loss because of this blackout (apparently caused by user error by a power company worker a whole state over in Yuma, AZ).    I for one, did not fully realize all amenities that were affected in a situation like this.  You couldn’t get food- no restaurants were open or the few that did manage to serve cold food or had gas grills could only feed so many, not to mention the long lines.  A lot of hotel rooms (on the upper floors) were without water.  And what about all of the conference events that had to be cancelled?   All of the networking, meetings and dinners that were affected?  Lost business opportunities?  

You can’t always prepare for these things, but I hope the next ICSC Conference fares better!  On the flip side, it certainly is one conference I will never forget…..