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Retailers and suppliers wring out after Sandy

Published October 31, 2012

BROOKLYN, NY (BRAIN) —It's difficult to assess the extent of damage that bike retailers and suppliers suffered from this week's storm, which slammed the East Coast from North Carolina up to New England. While news reports suggest that many stores along the coast were devastated, especially near Atlantic City, New Jersey, and on Brooklyn and Long Island. But BRAIN has not been able to reach owners of those stores to confirm.

BRAIN was unable to reach any retailers in Manhattan, where phone lines are still down or operating poorly Wednesday.

However, the Toga! chain tweeted out a message and posted an update on its Facebook page, saying that all three of its stores were open, although its Gotham Bikes location in Lower Manhattan and its Nyack location were operating without power or phones. 

'Apocalyptic ...'

Bicycle Habitat, which has one location in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, opened both locations on Wednesday, said owner Charlie McCorkell. The Manhattan location had no electricity or heat so workers put repair stands outside for light.

"We are doing things old school," McCorkell said. "We are doing paper transactions, writing down credit card receipts." McCorkell said he's been told the store will have electricity again in three or four days. 

"We thought we should be open ... We're fixing a lot of flat tires, people who haven't ridden in years are dragging their bikes out, it's like this apocalyptic thing. Earlier today I was getting a lot of calls from people in flood zones with questions about what they should do with bikes that were underwater."

Bicycle Habitat also is working with city bike transportation groups to help new commuters and was advertising a special post-Sandy discount on the bikenyc.org site

Brands Cycle & Fitness, in Wantagh, Long Island, will be closed as long as the electricity remains out, owner Gary Sirota told BRAIN Wednesday. He said he's heard estimates that the power could be out for the rest of the week or even longer.

"Right now all our services are down: computers, phone, lights. We can't open ... it's the first time in 58 years we've been closed for more than one day," said Sirota. He said the shop was not damaged by the storm.

Sales rep Harry Schwartzman is based in Brooklyn and services his clients via bicycle. Reached Wednesday, Schwartzman said he's heard that several of his clients suffered minor flooding at their stores.

"All of my guys downtown (Manhattan) are shut down without power," he said. "The shops along coastal Brooklyn are shut down with no re-opening in sight."

Schwartzman said that even shops that aren't damaged by water will be harmed by any lengthy store closures, given the area's "ridiculously high rents."

It's likely that several stores along the New Jersey coast, including Atlantic City, and perhaps some on the Long Island and Brooklyn shores were severely hit by the storm, but BRAIN has been unable to confirm specifics.

BrooklynSpoke.com published a list of shops that are open for business this week.

Kickstand maker Greenfield Industries' building is located just a few feet above sea level on Long Island and was likely flooded by Sandy. Watch for updates on this website and please contact Steve Frothingham at sfrothingham@bicycleretailer.com if you have any information.

Action hit hard, other suppliers re-opening

Action Bicycle Inc., the parts and accessories wholesaler in Carlstadt, New Jersey, was hit hard by Sandy, Action's Ed Boyak said in an email to BRAIN.

"A local levy was breached in neighboring Moonachie, NJ. The area surrounding our building was under at least 5-6 feet of water. About a foot of water entered our warehouse floor. The extent of the damage is still being accessed by the few employees that have been able to reach the building,"Boyak said.

"The water has receded from the building and continues to leave the region ... Power is out and will hopefully be restored soon. Clean up efforts have begun and will intensify more through the week once transportation has returned to normal. We will resume business as soon as possible, we hope in a few days. Please send our empathy and good wishes to our bicycle dealers in the region that may have experienced even worse damage than us, especially those along the NJ and Long Island shorelines. Please reassure them we will be up and running soon."

Wholesaler QBP re-opened its Pennsylvania warehouse Tuesday after shutting down early Monday. Site manager Dave Smith said shippers are operating again and QBP is shipping and receiving as normal. In Maine, wholesaler Downeast Bicycle Specialists is operating as usual. Mavic, Inc., in Massachusetts, also is open and operating as usual, a spokesman said.

Advanced Sports International, in Philadelphia, is also up and running, ASI president Pat Cunnane said. The company has set up a web portal, www.bikesandy.com, to help bike commuters in New York gather and share information. 

However, phone lines appeared to be down at Security Bike Supply in Hempstead, New York. And G. Joannou's warehouse in Northvale, New Jersey, remains closed. An employee there said the warehouse was not damaged but is closed due to lack of power. The compay is filling dealer orders from its Florida and California facilities. 

On Long Island, Finish Line Technologies re-opened Wednesday, but so far has been unable to ship any orders, company president Hank Krause said.

Krause said that while the company's headquarters was largely unaffected by the storm, some employees have had their own challenges. One employee remains trapped on the second floor of her house as her first floor is flooded, he said.

"She can't get out, but I guess her cell phone is working again," he said.

Other employees have seen damage to their homes and power outages. Krause said his neighborhood is without power and will likely remain that way for a week.

Krause said he was heartened by the many calls and emails he's received from around the world.

"People have been getting in touch and asking how we are doing and offering to help in any way. It feels good," he said.

Topics associated with this article: Hurricane Sandy

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