By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK – The effects of Hurricane Sandy on East Coast consumer electronics businesses are a mixture of damage, curtailed operations, and concern about the well-being of not only employees but customers too.
Several companies responded to TWICE inquiries about their businesses starting on Friday, Nov. 2, and then on Monday, Nov. 5, with other information being provided from their websites.
Gregg Richard, president of P.C. Richard & Son, the largest electronics/appliance retailer in the New York metropolitan area, emailed TWICE on Nov. 2 reporting on various power and communications problems with a variety of stores.
But by Monday, Nov. 5, the chain was fully operational with the exception of four stores, Richard said. The Oceanside store on Long Island sustained the most damage, with 3 feet of water in the building. He noted that the Jersey City, N.J., store only had “a few inches of water” as of Saturday, Nov. 3.
J&R’s stores on Park Row in Lower Manhattan were closed during the aftermath of the storm but reopened on Nov. 3 when power returned to Lower Manhattan, according to its website. While the store was closed, J&R posted on its site that its web operation was running at JR.com and phone orders were being taken.
Electronics Expo, based in New Jersey, had a message on its website Friday, Nov. 2, that its phone lines were down and that consumers should email for sales or customer service. By Monday, Nov. 5, two of its four locations, in Wayne and Paramus, had power and were open.
Adorama began providing Manhattan customers and neighbors with free charging stations. The retailer, located at West 18th Street in Manhattan, got a “trucksized generator, which gave us the juice to move forward” on Thursday, Ahron Schachter, one of the retailer’s top merchants, told TWICE.
Starting on Thursday, Nov. 1, Adorama reopened thanks to the generator and began offering free charging stations for phones and other electronics. The store was part of the section of Manhattan that did not have power until Saturday, Nov. 3.
LG Electronics said in a statement to TWICE on Nov. 2, “Despite the fact that LG’s U.S. headquarters office remains without power as of Friday, it’s really business as usual for LG. Our teams are all working remotely and, thankfully, our systems and processes were not affected. One of our warehouses was affected, but it’s getting power back, and other distribution centers are able to handle dealer orders. We’ll continue to assess the situation in the weeks ahead, but we don’t foresee any major business interruptions for LG as a result of the storm.”
Jim Minarik, chairman/CEO of DEI Holdings, told TWICE on Nov. 2: “Our Polk Audio and Definitive Technology Divisions are based in Baltimore and got hit pretty hard with the wind and rain, and a number of our people are still without power at their homes. But everyone is safe and sound, and we were able to open and resume business pretty quickly, albeit with a few bumps along the way. We are still assessing the impact on our customers, but I do not have any specific feedback at this time. But obviously anyone based in the hardest hit areas or those with stores in those same areas are going to need all of our support.”
Bob Cole, president/founder of World Wide Stereo, Hatfield, Pa., told TWICE in an email that his stores were “without power for four days but we got our servers up, using generators. I operated at my desk using a Coleman fuel lantern. We were rolling service trucks on Monday, and our custom installation department was in full swing on Tuesday providing full service. Customers did visit our one store to just hang out. We were able to give our customers the kind of help only a specialist could give — rigging antennas, hooking up generators, etc. It was fun … sad, but noble fun. Shipping was manual and lighting was by flashlight for too long. I am exhausted but now have power at home.”
Canon reported Friday, Nov. 2, that its Jamesburg, N.J., repair facility was closed and without power. They expected power to be restored by Nov. 7.
Among those CE companies providing initial support to the victims of Hurricane Sandy were Best Buy and RadioShack.
Best Buy is donating $200,000 of product and Geek Squad tech support to nonprofits, schools and libraries delivering disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The retailer said its IT support crew has established mobile hotspots and charging and email stations at those facilities, and is going to shelters to donate and set up TVs, gaming stations and other entertainment devices to assist displaced families.
The Geek Squad “agents” will also provide tech support for computing devices and will troubleshoot connectivity and hardware and software issues.
RadioShack announced a $50,000 donation to the American Red Cross to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
The donation will help cover costs of shelter, food, recovery and other assistance to families affected by the storm, the retailer said. RadioShack also encouraged customers to join them in supporting the Red Cross. Through mobile donations, customers can donate $10 to American Red Cross directly by texting RED CROSS to 90999, then confirming the donation. The donation amount will appear on the customer’s next monthly invoice. RadioShack will be also be using its social-media channels to share mobile donation instructions and encourage additional contributions.
To give you the scope of the disaster from an industry leader, read what Gregg Richard emailed TWICE Friday, Nov. 2: “Many, many homes in our trading area were totally destroyed or flooded. There is much rebuilding to be done, and I believe our customers’ only concern now is their housing situation, power situation, and finding some place for warmth, food and comfort … We are thankful that our P.C. Richard & Son family somehow made it through this safe. But, there are many, many tragedies, and we are doing our best to help our customers in any way we can.” — Additional reporting by Greg Tarr
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.