Sandy One Year Later: A Story of Small-Business Regeneration
The storm came just as Madelaine's peak holiday season got underway, which starts with Halloween and ends with Easter. "On October 29th we were overflowing with product that was going to be shipped the next day. November is our biggest shipping month. Consequently many of our customers were without product to put on their shelves," he says.
Yet Farber is thankful that the company's customers did return. "It's a great incentive for us. The orders are in but it's very challenging because we need to get the product out," he says.
In order to manage expectations only a handful of product lines are being made - staples like chocolate turkeys, Christmas Santas, snowmen, hearts for Valentine's Day and roses, among others.
"We cut down some of those items that are not in much demand and items where the machinery to make them is a little bit more challenging" to restore, he says.Still, for as large (and as popular) as Madelaine Chocolate is, Farber notes that the approximately $13 million SBA loan it received - backed by real estate collateral and personal guarantees -- was just dispersed roughly five weeks ago. Thankfully the company was able to get private financing and a grant through National Grid of $250,000 to begin the process of rebuilding. "We did what needed to be done," Farber says. "We want to make this a success. I believe we made the right decision." Jersey Shore Over in the Jersey Shore, one business owner has reservations about rebuilding. Greg Kohr owned five locations of Kohr's Frozen Custard: The Original, an offshoot of the famous Kohr's dynasty, before the storm. Two of his stores have re-opened, two have been moved inland to new locations and a fifth avoided the storm's wrath because it was not on the shore. (None of Greg Kohr's stores were affected by last month's Jersey Shore boardwalk fire - that was his cousin, he says, who lost all four of his stores.) Since the frozen custard stores are seasonal (typically open from around Palm Sunday through Columbus Day), Greg Kohr had been fortunate that he didn't lose all of his business to Sandy, but even so, business fell about 40% this summer.
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