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Sandy-Ravaged Shops Hope For Boost On Small Business Saturday

Cuban Crocodile

The Cuban Crocodile restaurant in Long Beach, Long Island, is trying to make a comeback after Superstorm Sandy. (Credit: CBS 2)

Superstorm Sandy

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Black Friday was the big day for major retailers, but Saturday is all about the mom and pop stores.

As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, the day is known as Small Business Saturday, and this year, it has special meaning – especially for those trying to make it back from Superstorm Sandy.

On Saturday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new $5.5 million grant program to help small businesses that suffered damage to Sandy. He said banks have also pledged another $5 million to an existing $10 million emergency fund, the Associated Press reported.

But Sandy has also put many shops out of business. Some will not recover, but others are hoping that Saturday will give them the boost they so desperately need.

The warmth and familiarity of a neighborhood mom and pop store is an undeniable part of most communities, but weeks after Sandy hit, small businesses have continued to suffer.

“We want to stay in business,” said Babylon, Long Island, gift shop owner Pat Turner. “I’ve been here 32 years.”

Turner needs your help, and so do thousands of others.

“Retailers in the local are already two to three weeks behind, and it will take almost a month or more for them to catch up,” said Marshal Cohen, an analyst with the NDP Group of Port Washington.

Small Business Saturday is an annual nationwide effort to support small businesses. Local shops will be highlighted all day Saturday.

Sheila Dallara of Hoboken can buy toys elsewhere, but she said she’ll only do it in her town, where her bucks help buy a bounce back.

“It’s so important to support local businesses and help bring them back,” Dallara said.

1010 WINS Reporter Gary Baumgarten reports…

When Sandy zapped the store’s power, Big Fun Toys on Washington Street lost more than just a week of business.

“We really are going to be relying on this holiday season to catch up with the effects of Sandy,” said Big Fun Toys manager Kathleen Childs.

In Long Beach, Nassau County, small business owners such as Cuban Crocodile Restaurant operator Marini Wolfe are dealing with damage to their businesses and their homes.

“You don’t know which to go for first – your home, your business – but they’re both equally important,” Wolfe said.

During Sandy, Marini’s restaurant was filled with flood water, and the boiler and water heater were destroyed.

In Staten Island, small business owners emphasized how they helped out during the horrors of Superstorm Sandy. The Everything Goes Book Café on Bay Street in Tompkinsville was one of the few places with power and wireless Internet.

“We were able to be a real service to the community,” barista Carl Pecum told WCBS 880.

The staff stayed up late to charge phones, send e-mail and warm up with a warm cup of coffee, he said.

“We were packed with very grateful people in that time,” Pecum said.

Co-worker Alyssa Oliver said it paid off with new customers.

“They saw how hard we were walking and they really enjoyed the atmosphere, so they came back,” she said.

Oliver said it all highlights the unique and personal advantages small businesses have over big-box retailers.

“Wal-Mart and Target will never be able to offer the sense of community that small businesses are,” she said.

The State of New York is offering emergency low-interest loans to help get small businesses back on their feet, but business owners say they also need the local foot traffic. For more information, go to NYC.gov or call 311.

“We’re open, but you know, these people don’t really, you know, have the money, the time, or whatever,” said Kevin Donald, owner of Go Green Dry Cleaning in Long Beach. “They’re just trying to survive and we’re trying to survive too.”

Small retailers emphasized that supporting local businesses means supporting the whole community.
“When you’re supporting local businesses you support people who live, the people who work here, live here and it’s a good, efficient way of supporting the town you live in,” Childs added.

Will you be patronizing a local business this Small Business Saturday? Leave your comments below…