Kohr credits Stronger Than The Storm, a consumer campaign developed to raise awareness of the Jersey Shore's recovery, for helping with business this summer.
"There was a lot of misconception that the boardwalk wasn't open, that there were so many damaged businesses ... I think we really would have been hurting a lot more if we didn't have that campaign," he says.
Yet Kohr is already nervous about the 2014 summer season, predicting that business will improve just 30% over this past summer. It shows just how long the recovery process will truly take from storms like Sandy, but it's not from a lack of love or determination for their stores or the communities they are in.
"One of the neighboring towns, Ortley, is still pretty much destroyed. There is not a lot of rebuilding of the residences yet. And Ocean Beach ... A lot of summer bungalows are there. Probably 60% is still not rebuilt, and I don't know if it will be rebuilt for this year," Kohr says.
"There's a lot of questions. Do I rebuild another store on the boardwalk? I'm ... giving a lot of thought and consideration to opening up across the bridge on the mainland, as we call it, either in Toms River, Bricktown -- somewhere close," he says. "There's a difference between the mainland and being at the shore. I opened up in Ortley and Lavallette because I believe in the towns. And the people over here are really great, and I just love the shore community. I grew up in Seaside. So my heart's here."
It takes a lot of guts to be a small-business owner, especially these days. When a natural disaster like Sandy hits, and there will be more of them, local economies would falter if it weren't for the resilience of this special group.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.
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