Sandy One Year Later: A Story of Small-Business Regeneration
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After 16 years in business, Sun Kissed Tanning, a tanning salon in Long Beach, N.Y., officially closed this past April because it couldn't come up with the investment needed to rebuild following Hurricane Sandy.
For months, owner Allie Cohen posted optimistic comments on the tanning salon's Facebook page, with all signs pointing toward a re-opening. But Cohen was waiting on insurance money to come through - a Small Business Administration loan and for new tanning beds to be delivered.
Finally on April 5, 2013, she called it quits on Facebook. It was a heart-wrenching decision.
"I am very sad to say that after over 16 years in business, Sun Kissed will not be able to reopen. The salon took a beating from Sandy... ALL tanning beds, sunless tanning and other electrical equipment were trashed... Unfortunately nothing at ALL was covered by insurance. The investment to complete the rebuild, purchase ALL the new tanning equipment and utilities is far too high for me to accomplish. The SBA loan has been dragging me along and still not in my hands. I always took pride in the homey, comfy environment in Sun Kissed. My staff has been amazing and like family to me. ... This is a very sad situation and I feel sorry for all my beautiful clients who have been loyal and waiting for me. I thank you all very dearly for making Sun Kissed a success. Wishing you all the best from the bottom of my heart. XOXO Allie"
Sun Kissed Tanning's story is one that's heard throughout the seaside towns across New York, New Jersey and elsewhere after being pummeled last October by Superstorm Sandy, the media's nickname for the late-season hurricane. Sandy's wrath was particularly destructive because the hurricane merged with another winter storm and happened during a full moon when tides are already higher, turning it into a megastorm that affected the entire eastern seaboard before making landfall near Atlantic City, N.J.
There is a terrible reality that oftentimes comes with being a small-business owner. Sandy reinforced the notion that owning a business is a risk. Everyone has heard stories like Sun Kissed Tanning's -- business owners who couldn't afford to rebuild on their own, but getting a grant funded by the government, financing (if they could even take on more debt) or an insurance company to cover their losses hasn't exactly worked out.
Just about one year later, the businesses that TheStreet spoke with have had varying experiences with rebuilding. On the bright side, lessons have been learned and some are coming back with brighter outlooks and a renewed sense of enthusiasm for their businesses. Others have reservations and wonder whether their businesses will ever be able to regain the same traction as before the storm.
Long Beach, N.Y.
Dr. Sean Pastuch, a chiropractor, and his business partner Mike Abgarian were forced to close their original CrossFit location in Long Beach, N.Y., after the establishment suffered a "complete loss," when water, sewage and fuel rushed into the gym during the storm.