Beach 116 Coming Back - Perhaps
Now, almost two months later, some of those stores have opened on a limited basis while others continue to clean up, restock and plan for the future.
Most of the store’s owners The Wave spoke with tell the same story.
“We want to reopen and we are working on it,” the owner of Rogoff’s Card & Gift told The Wave this week. “It all depends on the Small Business Administration and what it can do for us.”
According to the federal agency’s website, businesses may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.
For small businesses, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
The reality, local storeowners say, is far different.
“They run you through the hoops,” one local owner, who asked not to be identified, said. “They demand paperwork that has been lost and they tell you something one day and something else the next. They make it very difficult for you and give you all sorts of excuses of why low cost loans can’t be provided. It’s like their job is not to help you, but to keep you from getting any help.”
Brown’s Hardware was one of the shops devastated by Sandy. All of the merchandise on the selling floor was destroyed, as were the electrical and heating systems.
“We are going to open on a limited basis and sell whatever stock we have saved,” one of the store’s owners said. “Then we are going to close down and gut the entire store – depending, of course, on what the SBA tells us it is going to do.”
The owner’s implication and that of others who spoke to The Wave was that they would have to abandon their stores and close their doors should the SBA refuse to help. A number of Beach 116 Street shops are already running, albeit some on a limited basis.
The Gift is Love, for example, opened earlier this week without the use of its two back rooms, but the owners expect that it will be fully open before Christmas.
J & K Jewelers had all of its showcases in place earlier this week and should be in full operation as you read this paper.
The Chase Bank branch has relocated to a trailer in the parking lot across from the still-closed A Train Station and is open for full operation, including three ATM machines in front of the trailer.
It’s owner said that whether or not it ever opens again depends on the Small Business Administration.
“They already have access to all my paperwork and tax material,” the owner said, “but they keep asking for more and more. I don’t know if we’ll ever get the financial help we need to rebuild and restock.”
The Belle Harbor Steak House hopes to be open the day after Christmas, but in a different incarnation.
“We will become more of a diner than a restaurant,” the owner told us as he hung up a Christmas wreath. “We will be open seven days a week at 7 a.m. and our prices will be much more moderate.”
“It does not look good from an SBA point of view,” the owner said. “They want so much that we don’t have to give and it does not look as if they are going to help us. We need loans and grants to reopen.”
Others, such as King’s Pharmacy, the Blue Bungalow and Paul’s Bike Shop on the shopping street have already opened fully for business and that list seems to grow each day.
Walk on the street and talk with people and the joke seems to be that the ubiquitous nail shops seem to all be open and many of them opened within days of the storm that closed everybody down.
“The nail shops seem to have survived very well,” one Rockaway resident said. “It makes you wonder.”