Behind the Scenes at a Small Business: Lessons From Sandy


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Norman was already expecting weaker October sales compared with last year, due to the Jewish holidays that fell in September instead of October in 2012, but also because Halloween isn't a big card-buying holiday.

She also says Designer Greetings, located in Edison, N.J., was closed, which meant a slowdown in shipments. "It wasn't like we had much business that we needed cards. Any pocket that was empty, we just used our filler cards," Norman says.

Card$mart's shipment of holiday Thanksgiving chocolate was also delayed. Norman says she usually purchases the popular chocolate molded as turkeys from The Madelaine Chocolate Co. , which is headquartered in The Rockaways, a hard-hit area.

Norman says she hasn't been able to get through to the company and ended up purchasing more expensive chocolates from a third-party distributor.

A note on its website says the hurricane has forced The Madelaine Chocolate Co. to temporarily close its doors.

One of the biggest lessons Norman learned from the storm was to make sure the store has proper insurance coverage for natural disasters.

Norman says she took home the store's insurance policy on the day of the storm, intending to look it over. (She acknowledges she wasn't fully aware of the coverage.) And even though the store had no damage, with the crazy weather patterns as they are, Norman plans to review coverage options with fresh eyes.

Norman says her main concern was coverage in case the front display window was broken.

"As it turned out, we were down by a few hundred dollars from last October in terms of sales. Because we have so much more merchandise, the number should have been higher. The goal is to grow every year, and I think it was the hurricane that hurt revenue ," Norman says.

As Long Island slowly resumed power in the second week following the storm, business was picking up again. Still, Norman says "you never get those days back."

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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