Businesses Hit By Sandy Still Can’t Take Calls, Credit Cards

Inside AVEC PharmacyAlexa Mae Asperin A section of AVE C Pharmacy is still blocked off.

In the days following Sandy, restaurant owners along Avenue C told us they were hurting (today, DNA Info checks in with some of those same restaurateurs). But what about dry businesses that haven’t been championed by the likes of the Eat Up Tip Down movement? A brief survey of neighborhood mom-and-pop operations, including a few veterans of our Making It column, revealed that many are still without telephone, Internet and credit card services. (The Times reported today that 100,000 throughout the state are still without landlines.) Several of them reported tens of thousands of dollars in losses.

IMG_5658Alexa Mae Asperin

Urban Vets
163 Avenue C, near East 10th Street
Estimated Losses: At least $21,000
Days Closed: 7
Structural Damage: Basement flooding, slight flooding on ground level
Other Losses: Ultrasound and Dentistry machines, benches
“Right now I’m using my cell phone and iPad for a hotspot. I’m calling in credit cards but the credit card companies are giving me problems. It’s a headache, it’s really hard. I can’t get my lab results because we don’t have a fax line; I can’t give customers receipts because I can’t connect to a printer. The biggest challenge has been fighting off the cold. We are also a small rescue so we aren’t taking in too many animals because we don’t have heat. Now we don’t have much business.” –Jessica Martinez, receptionist

IMG_5652Alexa Mae Asperin

Ave C Pharmacy
178 Avenue C
Estimated Losses: $200,000
Days Closed: 8
Structural Damage: 9 feet of basement flooding, 3 feet of ground-floor damage
Other Losses: 6 computers, 4 printers, entire flooring on ground level
“We lost everything in the basement: Christmas supplies, computers, prescription labels, vials, everything. We also lost a lot of products that were submerged under three feet of water here. I expanded the store on Oct. 22 and on Oct. 29, the hurricane hit. We were handwriting prescriptions for five days and cleaned for four days. We really need help.” –Prakash Deshpande, pharmacist and supervisor

Figlia & Sons
746 East Ninth Street, near Avenue D
Structural Damage: Eight trucks down as a result of flooding on Avenue C. No telephone or internet.
“What is hurting us is that we are just on our cell phones. We can’t fax, we can’t run credit cards. We are losing business just because so much of our business is done by phone since we don’t have a showroom.” –Renita Singh, bookkeeper

IMG_5660Alexa Mae Asperin

CHP Hardware Store
120 Avenue C
Estimated Losses: $25,000 to $30,000
Days Closed: 5
Structural Damage: Basement flooding, damage to tiles on ground level of store
“Cement, Sheetrock, everything down there [in the basement] was lost but we tried to salvage what we could. Our phone line is dead, so we still can’t do credit cards. They said not until December – that’s crazy. We had to dig into our pockets for our personal savings. We also applied for FEMA but they want us to do a business loan. Who wants to go into debt right now when you already have so much loss?” –Monica Pedreros, owner

IMG_5662Alexa Mae Asperin

Equal Care Pharmacy
753 East Fifth Street, near Avenue D
Estimated Losses: $25,000
Days Closed: 7
Structural Damage: None
“We still don’t have telephone or Internet. I bought a hotspot for my phone and use it to submit claims. It isn’t as fast as cable and right now people are coming in to drop off prescriptions. [The telephone company] came last week and said we’d probably get phone lines by Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of time that we are losing” –Kenneth Fung, pharmacist and supervisor

Shape of Lies
127 East Seventh Street, near Avenue A
“A kind of cold dark forced vacation. Being a history buff it was an interesting experience being thrown back to the 1700s. Our only damage was candle wax on the bed. We still have spotty phone service and heat, but all the lights are on so I’m content and count us lucky.” –Peggy Yunque, owner

IMG_5636Alexa Mae Asperin

Bargain Express
526 East 14th Street, near Avenue B
Estimated Losses: $50,000 – $60,000
Days Closed: 5
Structural Damage: Basement flooding
“The surges below ground filled up the basement and we sustained a lot of water damage; here on the ground level we got about two feet. We had to throw away lots of merchandise and reorder new ones. Next time we have to invest more in the business” –Nimo Kafif, general manager

Sixth Street Pilates
Structural Damage: None
“It’s not just a week’s loss of income, it’s also this recovery period. Some of our students are still either displaced or without heat, water, or electricity, or have damaged apartments and Pilates isn’t a priority. To that end it will take a while to feel like we are back on track.” –Anula Maiberg, owner

IMG_5666Alexa Mae Asperin

Yang Tze River Laundromat
300 East Third Street, near Avenue D
Estimated Losses: $3,500
Days Closed: 5
Structural Damage: None
“We had no electricity for five days and people couldn’t wash their clothes. How am I supposed to make money? I have to pay rent which is $3,000 a month plus building taxes” –Kevin Yeoh, owner

Inkstop Tattoo
209 Avenue A, near East 13th Street
Days Closed: 6
Structural Damage: None
“I saw the shop wasn’t flooded, picked up the appointment book to call customers for the week from home where I had power, and left until Saturday. We’re slowly getting back to work though understandably, a lot of customers are not making it in due to either flooding, power outages, or not being able to get gas.” –Eric Rignall, owner

Otto’s Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street, near Avenue B
Days Closed: 3
Damage: A walk-in cooler compressor and soda pump motor were destroyed thanks to a couple of feet of water in the basement.
“It’s a testimonial to our staff that we were able to open 2 hours after the power came back on. It could have been much worse. We got off easy compared to our neighbors further east.” –Steve Pang, owner

Shira Levine contributed reporting.