Businesses strive to survive
Hudson County stores digging out; Hoboken ShopRite still shut
by Dean DeChiaro
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 11, 2012 | 8025 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
INSIDE – The interior of Battaglia Homes on the Wednesday after the storm. Brian Battaglia, the store’s owner, said flooding from Sandy lifted furniture off the floor and carried it away.
view slideshow (2 images)


In an economy in which some small businesses are barely making ends meet, losing a week or more of revenue due to a power outage – not to mention dealing with damaged merchandise and property – can make it difficult for a local shop owner to survive. And even major stores like Hoboken’s ShopRite are struggling to reopen post-Sandy.

Last week, business owners on both sides of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath – those who donated goods and those who had their goods ruined – talked about their experiences.

Brian Battaglia, who owns Battaglia Homes, an upscale home furnishings store in Hoboken, is dealing with the loss of his entire first-floor showroom on Willow Avenue near the Weehawken border.

Despite Battaglia’s best efforts, his store was inundated with three feet of water.

“I was coming down about every two or three hours on Monday night, and each time it looked a bit worse,” he said. “We sandbagged and put everything up a few inches, and moved as much as we could, but there was only so much we could do.”

Battaglia did not have an estimate for when he will reopen. In this, he was not alone.

In Jersey City, The Pointe, a popular restaurant at the Point Liberté was “washed away,” according to the New York Times.

In Hoboken, the ShopRite located at Madison Street and Ninth Street sustained such serious flood damage that it has no timetable for reopening, said Santina Stankevich, a spokesperson for the Wakefern Food Corporation in Elizabeth, N.J., ShopRite’s parent company.

_____________

One store dug out its old manual credit card machines so it could sell liquor during the blackout.

____________

However, the ShopRite of Jersey City, which is located near the Hoboken border and is owned by the same family as the Hoboken store, has attempted to assuage the inconvenience to customers by widening its delivery services to include Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken, North Bergen, and West New York.

This past Monday, Robert Bazouzi, who has spent his life savings establishing the Robert Bazouzi Salon on First Street and Willow Avenue in Hoboken, complained at a press conference held by Mayor Dawn Zimmer about losing power at both his home and his business in town.

“My house is gone. My business is gone,” Bazouzi told Zimmer.

He later said that when he reopens, he will offer a 50 percent discount to any hurricane victims.

Hoboken’s popular bar and grill, Pilsener Haus, sustained severe flood damage and was forced to close for several days, according to Director of Events Jennifer Lampert.

“We had about 5 or 6 feet of water inside, and we had to rip out a bunch of sheet rock and insulation,” she said, adding that they planned to reopen this past Friday, under the fitting campaign of “rebuilding the Haus.”

Daniel de la Vega, who owns Edward’s Steakhouse in Jersey City, said there was serious damage to his restaurant, but that he would eventually reopen, perhaps as soon as early next year.

Lending a helping hand

Throughout Hudson County, businesses in areas which were less at risk, such as West New York, have spent the days since Sandy assisting victims.

Alex Duran, who owns the Son Cubano restaurant on Riverwalk Place, donated his perishable food to emergency service workers and firemen once he realized his restaurant would surely lose power and flood.

Armando Luiz, who owns two Sparrow Wine and Liquors stores in Hoboken, as well as the restaurant La Isla, was lucky enough to avoid flood damage and took it as an opportunity to count his blessings and help out.

“La Isla has gas grills, so we could still cook, and we just started grilling up everything we could and set up a stand outside the store,” he said. “We gave it all away for free. People have to eat.”

At Sparrow, Luiz and Rose Rossi, the store’s graphic designer, dug out old manual credit card machines and opened the store for business.

“The beer wasn’t warm yet, and a lot of people had no cash but were looking for a drink, and they were thrilled to be able to pay credit,” Rossi said.

Pilsener Haus also managed to lend a hand, donating the entire contents of their walk-in refrigerator, about $10,000 worth of food, to the city, and are planning several events in November and December that will benefit the city’s recovery effort, which uses the website rebuildhoboken.org. Events will include a beer tasting on Nov. 15 that will reserve $5 dollars of every ticket for the effort, and include drink specials.

This past Monday, Robert Bazouzi, who has spent his life savings establishing the Robert Bazouzi Salon on First Street and Willow Avenue in Hoboken, complained at a press conference held by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer about losing power at both his home and his business in town.

“My house is gone. My business is gone,” Bazouzi told Zimmer.

He later said that when he reopens, he will offer a 50 percent discount to any hurricane victims.

Corporate responsibility

Corporate establishments have pitched in as well, with the Spanish giant Goya Foods leading the way by donating 1,000 meals each day last week to Secaucus, Hoboken, Union City and North Bergen.

On Wednesday, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy announced a coalition with Goldman Sachs, Goya, Soap.com, and the United Way of Hudson County to provide essential food and toiletry items to hurricane victims.

“We greatly appreciate the support Goldman Sachs is providing to help the areas of the city that sustained significant damage,” said Mayor Healy in a press release. “Goldman Sachs has been a great partner with the city and we look forward to continuing our work with you as Jersey City recovers from Hurricane Sandy.”

Specialized businesses used their resources in still more ways. In Bayonne, Lowe’s opened its doors and ran generators for days to power cell-phone charging stations.

What comes next?

Luiz, whose businesses were not even seriously damaged, estimated that Sparrow Wine and Liquors lost about $100,000 during the days it was closed.

Battaglia said he was not worrying right now about long-term costs. “You’ve got to focus on what comes next,” he said. “It keeps you sane. What are we doing this next hour, this next day? Once you start thinking about the future, and about how much you might lose in the long run, it paralyzes you.”

Luiz cited a cultural toughness as a catalyst for staying strong as life slowly returns to normal. “Nothing gets Hoboken down,” Luiz said. “I’ve never seen anything like this past week, but I’ve been living here since 1977 and I’ve also never seen anything Hoboken didn’t bounce back from.”

“Everyone can do something,” Battaglia said. “We had 30 or 40 neighbors in here last week helping us clean, and I never even asked them to come. I had only waved to a few of them before all this. It was truly heartwarming.”

There are ways Battaglia will help too, he said. “I feel so blessed that this was only my business, and not my home,” he said. “Once we get back on our feet, we’re probably going to have some pretty significant discounting for families that lost everything.”

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet