When this winter’s temperatures plummeted, so did business at Bellmore-Merrick establishments, according to an informal survey of shop owners. Now area merchants say sales appear to be rebounding with the rapidly warming weather, and new businesses are moving in to fill vacant shops.
“It’s been a very difficult winter for a number of reasons,” said Ron Mare, owner of Choice Flooring, which has shops in Bellmore and Elmont and a third on the way in Manhasset. “It really was not fun. If I had not been established as long as I am, it would have been very rough for me.”
Mare, a former Bellmore Chamber of Commerce president, said he saw a surge in business over the winter of 2012-13 because flooring supplies were in demand after Superstorm Sandy ravaged houses across the South Shore. This winter, however, business at Choice Flooring dropped by 50 percent below a normal year, he estimated. “It slowed down horribly in October,” he said.
Mare said he knows of four Long Island flooring businesses that went under over the winter, and several of the manufacturing representatives whom he deals with were laid off.
Still, he kept his eight employees, and business is starting to improve. “The pipeline is absolutely filling up with quotes and orders,” Mare said. “In March and April, things pick up. People get their tax refunds and work on their homes.”
Gary Hudes, a Town of Hempstead councilman who owns Gennaro Jewelers in Bellmore Village, said, “Unless you were selling snow shovels or blowers, businesses took a hit in the first two months of the year because of the weather … Since the weather broke, people have now begun to come out, people are shopping, and businesses have made a great rebound since the beginning of the year.”
Randy Shotland, president of the Merrick Chamber of Commerce, said, “People are spending. It’s just, where are they spending? Shopping locally makes the difference between a store being open or having a barren, empty store. To me, [shopping locally] is what’s important in keeping stores open.”