It has been about a month and a half since Hurricane Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey and New York and devastated the homes and shops of some key retailers in the surf industry.
We talked to Jim Hennessey of Heritage Surf Shop, Tony G of Ocean Hut, Brian Farias of Farias Surf Shop on Long Beach Island, Chris Nieratko of NJ Skateshop, Ergo's Pete DiSpirito and New Jersey-based Jetty owner Cory Higgins about how shops are coping, how insurance issues are being resolved, if rebuilding efforts are underway, and how the surf industry is supporting the relief efforts.
Jim Hennessey, Heritage Surf Shop
Heritage has four shops on three different islands in New Jersey. The southern most store on Sea Isle and its Ocean City Boardwalk store were the least affected by the storm, but Jim said the Ocean City store (the one off the boardwalk) as well as the Margate store had at least three feet of water in each of them.
Jim said the Margate location will need to be completely rebuilt since there was about four feet of water damage inside. He is excited about that rebuild but it’s going to take time. This past weekend, however, Jim planned to re-open Heritage’s main shop in Ocean City. “We’ll be 100% back to business, and can’t wait,” said Jim about his main shop.
I asked Jim how he was able to open so fast and how hard it was to get contractors.
“Fortunately a lot of contractors surf so we were able to grab guys right away,” Jim laughed.
“I had three independent contractors at one time, and we were really early on the process so we just did what we had to do. We didn't wait for insurance money and we still haven’t received a penny from insurance, which has been disheartening,” he added.
One strategy Jim took to help with cash flow early on was to open a pop-up location on Asbury Avenue, a main shopping area, which he opened on Black Friday. Jim was able to have partially damaged goods professionally laundered and sold them to customers for about 70% off.
“It was great because the community really embraced it since they needed stuff, and we were able to keep somewhat of a cash flow going,” he said. The pop-up shop will stay open through Christmas.
In the meantime, Jim said there’s a lot of great holiday apparel and merchandise that just arrived from the surf industry and new racks he just received for the Ocean City location that are better than ever.
As for dealing with insurance companies, Jim said it’s been a bit of a “nightmare.”
“We hired a public assessor to help us with the claim. They want to see improvement receipts, but the problem is everything was damaged -- even old receipts so we have had to go back to builders and our suppliers. We were denied an advance for rebuild money because we didn't have enough receipt information. We just used our own money,” he said.
For the full article, check it out here on Shop-Eat-Surf.com