Michael Shannon’s business East Meadow Upholsterers is approaching its 70th year of operation, making it among the oldest businesses in East Meadow.
Despite the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on small businesses and the tool the virus took on him personally — he was sick with Covid-19 for 14 days in March — he has pushed to keep his business thriving. Shannon recently spoke to the Herald about his bout with Covid-19 and how he has run business since reopening in June.
Shannon’s birthday and 60th anniversary with his wife was approaching in March and he had planned to travel to Aruba to celebrate. On March 25, however, he was slammed by a sever fever and had to close his shop and send home his upholsterer Ziya Sinik.
For the next 14 days, his fever was stagnant and he would spend hours basking in the sun to try to bake it out of him, he said. “There were a couple of times I was in a very scary situation,” he said. “I had blue around my eyes and my mouth because of a lack of oxygen.”
Shannon’s wife Debrah had a milder case of the virus and, he said, “She nursed me back to health.”
When Shannon recovered, business shutdowns were in place and he had to keep his store closed until restrictions began to lift in June. In the interim, he spent every day cleaning his shop and clearing it of decades-old material he no longer needed.
Then, once he reopened, “the phone didn’t stop ringing and it still hasn’t stopped,” he said, adding that old and new clients alike had been waiting to have their furniture upholstered and were finally able to get it done.
The summer is usually a busy time for outdoor furniture and this year was even busier, he said. Shannon brought back his upholsterer Sinik, a Turkish businessman who owned and operated a successful upholstery business in his home country.
“He’s a good man,” Shannon said. “He’s worked for me for 22 years and I saved furniture aside so he had stuff to work on when he got back.”
Shannon began working at East Meadow Upholsterers in 1981 and become its owner in 1987, taking over for his father-in-law, Louis Ferrari, who opened the business in 1951 and was president of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce in 1962 and 1963.
Shannon, who is also active in the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce, had planned to become an electrician, like many others in his family. But he learned upholstery after marrying Ferrari’s daughter Debrah, and saw it as a profitable venture, he said.
Now, he said, he feels connected to East Meadow’s history and an integral part of the community. “It’s a nice feeling being back out there and getting to say I survived this,” he said.