For many small businesses, the week before Christmas can mean big business. But in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many of them are struggling to survive if they've been able to open. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim visited a Brooklyn shopping district that's hoping the customers come and filed the following report.
Paul Randazzo says he's sworn off clams, for now. You might find that surprising, coming from the owner of Randazzo's Clam Bar. But Randazzo blames Hurricane Sandy. Since the hurricane damaged his landmark restaurant floor to ceiling, he says he won't eat clams until they're served from his kitchen.
"I know it's coming. I'll be eating calamari Thursday at the latest," Randazzo said.
No one's shucking clams in the kitchen just yet. Crews are still rushing to finish repairs for a Friday re-opening.
"I'm still not fully restored. I still have no register. I might be working out of the cigar box. As long as there's money coming in and the doors are open. I just got my credit card machine," Randazzo said.
Some of Randazzo's neighbors on Emmons Avenue are still struggling to get the registers ringing in holiday sales. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has been going business to business across the borough offering a life preserver of up to $25,000 in loans and $10,000 in grant money.
"There are still a lot of businesses closed. Even businesses that are open may not be at full capacity, they may not be fully staffed, they may not be fully open. So there is tension, but this is a tough neighborhood, this is Brooklyn. It’s a strong place and people are really rolling up their sleeves so we’re seeing slowly another business reopen, another place come back on board," said Carlo Scissura of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Randazzo considers himself lucky that he'll soon be turning on the clam bar's signature outdoor lights. But he knows other small businesses may never recover.
"It's going to be dark and scary here for a while," Randazzo said. "All my neighbors are saying, 'Please get open. We want the lights.'"
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has distributed more than a million dollars in loans so far and has processed applications from 600 businesses that are looking for help to survive.