Five Local Businesses Hope to Rebound from Sandy with Holiday Shopping Event Sunday

After Hurricane Sandy damaged several local businesses and cost them thousands in damaged products, lost business and repairs, many of these businesses are struggling to get back on their feet.

This weekend, five small businesses will band together for a holiday shopping event, “Take Back the Holidays” in an attempt to rebound from the storm.

Cocoa Bakery, Kanibal Home, Newark-based printing company Nightingale Projects, and WorryWoo Monsters will set up pop-up shops at Grove Street Bicycles. Each of the business owners say things have been rough after the hurricane.

Owner and pastry chef Jessica Isaacs of Cocoa Bakery, which is under construction and was slated to soon open its storefront at 275 Grand St., says, “The storm hit us pretty hard.” Indeed, the ground-level bakery was filled with over five feet of water and suffered a lot of damage, as seen in this video. Still, she says, “events like (this holiday market) remind (her) how strong the Jersey City community is” and is a source of hope for locals.

Home decor and gift shop Kanibal Home was also smashed by Sandy and had to close their doors for weeks after the storm. The shop went two weeks without power and suffered flood damage. When news got out that the popular store was devastated, almost 150 of their fans donated via ChipIn and raised $10,380 to help owner Kristen Scalia rebuild. They reopened in November and have been restocking for the holiday season since.

“Hurricane Sandy was devastating to many small businesses, including our own, but we’ve happily been able to reopen and are now even more dedicated to a neighborhood that we are proud to live and work in,” says Scalia, who adds that her store has partnered with Nightingale Projects to produce a line of Jersey City-centric apparel, bags and decorative home goods that we will be displaying at the holiday market.

Sandy flooded the basement of host business Grove Street Bicycles with sewage water, causing them to lose about $80,000.

“We’re not in a flood zone but with the amount of surge and water coming in, we ended up getting sewage backup,” says co-owner Rodney Morweiser. Three feet of sewage water damaged their bike maintenance area, office (where their computer, server and other important electrical equipment was located), as well as new bikes and customer bikes waiting for repairs. Since the storm, they’ve redone the floors and made some repairs, but still have a long way to go to get the basement and their business as a whole at full capacity before the spring sales rush.

Co-owner Ralph Sinisi’s sister-in-law, Andi Green, teamed up with Grove Street Bicycles to organize Sunday’s event and offered to read from her award-winning children’s plush toy and book series, WorryWoos, which focuses on different emotions. Her latest creation (seen above) is the Very Frustrated Monster — an emotion these small business owners can probably relate to.

“We’re hoping this draws some attention to the store and these other businesses,” says Morweiser, adding that they will have sales, prizes, giveaways and some refreshments at the event as well.

“We want this to be fun for people of all ages,” he says. “Dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has been an emotional time.”

Green agreed, adding, “I hope this event gets everyone into the holiday spirit.”

“Take Back the Holidays” will be held on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 10:30 am at Grove Street Bicycles, 365 Grove St. “The Very Frustrated Monster” readings will be held at 11 am, 12:30 pm and 2 pm. For more information, visit Grove Street Bicycles’ website.

Photo courtesy of Andi Green

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.