Generator salesmen pop up in parking lots

LAWTON__Many of those who have been in the dark for days finally decided to head out and buy a generator.

            However, since many stores are sold out, several traveling generator salesmen have set up shop in front of businesses and in parking lots.

            Many are legitimate, but those that are must have permits from the city, so officials recommend you ask for that information.

            City Manager Larry Mitchell said because the city hall offices were closed over the weekend, many vendors couldn't come to them to get a permit to sell generators.

            But, he said now that the offices are opened, several still haven't come in to get the necessary paperwork.

            For vendors selling generators across Lawton, business is booming.

            "We ain't got no heat we just stay under blankets at the house…

it's been hard," a man in Comanche County said.

            But what's harder, is that because several businesses are out of generators, vendors are starting to set up shop in parking lots, but some of their prices are outrageous.

            "Yesterday, a truck came through Roosevelt, where I live, and they had a $600 generator for $2,000, I was told," a woman said.

            Furthermore, the city says many of them that are selling the generators are doing it illegally. That's because they don't have licenses from the city.

            "If they don't have a copy of their OK sales tax ID number then we will shut them down," Mitchell said.

            Bill Inhofe has been selling generators since Thursday.

            "Well, everybody is desperate for power and of course the money is a problem," Inhofe said.

            He said police have stopped by asking him about the paperwork, which he couldn't obtain until today.

            "We had about eight companies in our office at eight this morning."

            Inhofe said this morning his business was one of them, and had the city fax those forms to his office back in Muskogee.

            "We want to help the people and we want to stay here to help the people," he said.  "When sales slow down then we will leave, and until then we are here."

            But for those who still refuse to follow the rules, the city is making sure that they will.

            "They are required to collect sales tax, they are required to be registered with the state of Oklahoma, so I would ask for that identification if you're talking to them," Mitchell said.

            Safety is also an issue when it comes to generators.  Emergency Management Director Clint Wagstaff said , if you are using a generator make sure they are kept outside.

            Generators should not be plugged directly into your main circuit breaker, because when the power is restored, it will be fed in both directions on the power lines, which can be extremely dangerous.