The Last Fan Standing



Is this the only electric fan for sale in London?
A two-week heatwave has cleared air conditioners, coolers and fans from the shelves of all the country's major hardware and electrical stores as temperatures soared above 100 degrees, breaking records stretching back two centuries.

Catalog chain Argos ripped the relevant pages from its catalogs in at least one central London store, and removed all references to cooling fans from its Web Site.

Home improvement chain B&Q had none, and neither did rival Homebase. Internet trawls yielded "out of stock."

Even iconic department store John Lewis had sold out of desktop fans and was unable to say when it would be able to restock.

"Yesterday over 3,000 people searched for 'fan' or 'fans' on our Web Site," a spokeswoman said.

But the capital had one, at least, for sale.

In an excellent illustration of the laws of supply and demand, a small electrical shop on Goodge Street in the city center was offering a 12-inch desk fan for $112. A more typical price would be $15 to $30.

But you'd better hurry. The fans -- some of which have been specially imported from China -- are selling like hot cakes.

"I had 44 yesterday. I have two left," said Danny Costello, manager of Rynnes electrical store. He sold one of them during the interview.