Cowboy Maloney's Electric City is proclaiming in ads that “We've taken a licking but we keep on ticking.”
The regional white- and brown-goods chain, whose trading area was engulfed by Hurricane Katrina, is up and running again, with nine of its 13 stores now open for business, reported CEO Con Maloney.
Of the balance, two, in Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss., are gone; one, in Hattiesburg, Miss., is structurally damaged; and the fourth, in Laurel, Miss., is sound, but located in a shopping mall that remains closed.
The nine remaining locations sustained light damage, and full operations resumed with the recent return of power and phone service to 90 percent of Maloney's markets.
Fortunately, no employees were lost, although some of their homes were.
“I've been to the Gulf twice now to try to move some of our stuff, and the devastation is so completely thorough,” Maloney said. Among those impacted are a store manager and a company bookkeeper who both lost their homes.
The Biloxi store itself was spared the storm surge but lost its roof, rendering the location inoperable. The company had been planning to relocate the Biloxi business to a newly remodeled site in Gulfport, which is now being used to house displaced families. And two walls were blown out of the Hattiesburg store, which may force it to be shuttered permanently.
Nevertheless, Con and his brothers, co-principals Edward and Johnny Maloney, are thankful. “We're fortunate to be alive,” he said. “We'll make do.”
The Maloneys are also deeply touched by the outpouring of support from the industry and the nation. “We've been getting calls from fellow dealers around the country, and the vendors have all been tremendous,” Con Maloney said. “Whirlpool came immediately. They're helping us supply shelters with appliances,” while Electrolux/Frigidaire is offering a rebate program to help the business get back on its feet. Other majap vendors are expected to follow suit.
“The appliance fraternity can be tough,” Maloney said. “But when things got tough around here, it was amazing how people rallied around us. People really care. People are really concerned. You can see it and feel it.”
“I need to thank everybody,” he said.