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N.Y. City CE Dealers Struggle Through Transit Strike

New York — The strike by transit workers that halted this city’s bus and subway service just days before Christmas has wreaked havoc on local dealers’ sales and operations.

While union leaders had reportedly agreed to resume operations at press time, the damage to local retailer coffers was already done.

“It’s the last thing we needed,” said Abe Brown, a spokesman for J&R Music and Computer World, a CE retail institution located in lower Manhattan. “It’s definitely not a good thing for a New York store coming just days before the holiday.” Brown said the impact on business is reminiscent of the aftershock from 9/11, when the company’s string of specialty stores, located two blocks from Ground Zero, saw traffic fall off dramatically.

“This is another shot in the head,” said Franklin Karp, president/CEO of New York metro area A/V specialist Harvey Electronics, which has three retail locations in Manhattan. “Although we’re not as gift-box oriented, it put a damper on things and impacted our install crews.”

Henry Posner, a spokesman for B&H Photo, whose Midtown brick-and-mortar business is dwarfed by its online and mail order sales, said the company took extreme measures to help get staffers to work and to minimize the impact on customers. “We reached out to all transport venues, opened up early, set up an employee Intranet site with the latest updates and we’re certainly being flexible with their hours and schedules,” he said. “We’re reminding our customers that we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances, and people have been very understanding.”

B&H has also bumped up standard shipping orders to express level at no extra charge. “There’s not going to be any coal in anyone’s stocking because of us,” Posner said.