EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 30, 2012

'Bare bones' businesses watch storm conditions

By Dustin Luca dluca@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Business was calm ahead of the storm yesterday as those businesses remaining opened reduced to “skeleton crews.”

Many businesses in the Merrimack Valley were closed yesterday and those staying open did so with minimal staff, according to Joe Bevilacqua, president of Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Those business owners who did open weren’t sure how long they would remain so, Bevilacqua said.

“People are preparing for it, but they just don’t know how bad it’s going to be,” he said. “We’ve had calls from people telling us that they’re open, and they’re not saying how long they’re open until because they don’t know how bad it’s going to be.”

But some businesses were booming in the storm, like J&B Butcher in East Hampstead.

“We’ve been very busy today,” employee Mary Ward said. “People aren’t stocking up. People, I think, are buying heavy to cook food — cook it ahead while they have power. They can always keep it cooler.”

Others stayed open while they could, but later decided to close early. The Mall at Rockingham Park originally announced it was staying open until its regular 9 p.m. closing time, but closed at 3 p.m. after the weather worsened.

Mark Torrisi, president of Jackson Lumber & Millwork in Lawrence, said he expected his business to close down early “not for safety reasons, but for lack of business.”

“Most of what we supply goes to new houses or additions,” Torrisi said. “Most of those guys aren’t working today.”

Most job sites will be closed throughout the storm unless they have a backup power source like a generator, Torrisi said.

Some were expecting issues even after Hurricane Sandy fades away.

“Transportation of products is going to be affected dramatically,” Bevilacqua said. “This whole week is going to be disrupted.”

Kevin Cyr, president of Cyr Lumber in Windham, said many customers “have canceled deliveries for construction projects.”

“As far as our operation, we’re in full operation this morning,” Cyr said yesterday.”Right now, we’re open during the storm because people still preparing for the storm.”

Most of the customers Cyr saw before the storm were preparing for it. Some larger items — generators being a key example — were already gone. All that was left was the bare essentials: batteries, flashlights, tarps and gas tanks.

“We’re a home center, so we’re selling items that could help people get ready,” he said. “It’s kind of a necessary thing.”