POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The lights are back on in Pound Ridge, but the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy will be felt for months by business owners in the Scotts Corners business district.
With power outages that in some cases lasted as long as a week, shop owners whose inventory consisted primarily of perishable items say they lost thousands of dollars. And some are still struggling to return to normal business practices.
Adam Free, owner of Plum Plums Cheese Shop, said that while he lost inventory, that’s not his biggest problem. He’s now having trouble getting his orders filled.
“Trying to get resupplied has been difficult because the whole supply chain has been disrupted,” he said. “Last week we put in orders for about 25 to 30 items and we received five of them.”
Free said the holiday season is his most lucrative time of the year and, with Thanksgiving looming, he’s growing nervous.
“This is our busiest time – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s,” he said. “There are some cheeses we really need to get because they are the most popular for the holidays and we don’t want to disappoint our customers.”
Free said that, during the blackout, he would come to the store every day to add ice to the refrigerators, but he still lost most of his soft cheeses.
“We took a pretty big hit,” he said.
Down the street at Scotts Corner Market, owner Billy Fortin said he was able to keep the store open during the blackout thanks to a gas generator – but it wasn’t enough to save his frozen food.
“We lost most of our perishables,” he said. “I tried to get a freezer truck here, but none were available.”
Fortin estimated that he lost about $75,000, which amounts to around $100,000 in retail sales.
“But we never closed for one minute,” he said. “We had plenty of ice and water and batteries. My wholesalers were great.”
The same couldn’t be said for Blind Charlie’s Café, which Fortin also owns. It had to close for six days and finally reopened on the Sunday morning following the storm.
“Blind Charlie’s took a little bit of a hit,” Fortin said. “But it wasn’t as bad because we simply didn’t order any food or supplies.”
Manager Lori McCarthy said the staff moved food to a downstairs freezer in an attempt to save it.
“But we didn’t know we would be out for a week,” she said. “When the power came back on six days later, we had to re-shop for everything. People were happy to see us open because they had no power at their homes. Normally on Sundays we close at 1, but we stayed open 'til 3 and then set up a dinner buffet at 5.”
McCarthy said the blackout was hard on the employees.
“It was six days without pay – it was a hardship for everyone,” she said.
But Fortin said the Blind Charlie’s staff won’t have to worry about lost salaries.
“We will work something out if they are having trouble,” he said. “We take care of our own.”
Toni Cummaro, who owns Pound Ridge Deli, said the storm and subsequent blackout was devastating to her business.
“We lost everything – thousands of dollars worth of stuff,” she said.
She said the employees at the neighboring business, Miller Landscaping, stopped in to help her clean up.
“They helped us clean out all the coolers and get rid of the garbage,” she said. “It’s just a little deli, but a week without power wreaks havoc. There was a lot of work.”
Asked if the business will be able to recover from the loss, Cummaro shrugged her shoulders.
"I hope so," she said.