On Saturday, November 17, the Toys”R”Us location at Caesar’s Bay opened its doors for the first time since Hurricane Sandy struck. After more than three weeks of cleanup following the storm, the retailer is back and ready for business.
The only thing that’s changed is the store’s location.
Instead of its usual waterfront building, Toys”R”Us has been separated into two parts. The electronics, bicycles, movies, sports equipment and video games are now located a little further away in the shopping center, at the former location of Spirit Halloween store, at 8975 Bay Parkway. Other items will temporarily be located in a tent directly outside the Toys”R”Us store.
And while they couldn’t say much else, managers reassured Bensonhurst locals that Toys”R”Us will be open to meet demand this holiday season.
Best Buy, situated slightly more inland than Toys”R”Us, is also open to the public, reporting minimal damages from the storm.
But not all retailers in the shopping center were spared. Kohl’s, Babies”R”Us, and Wendy’s currently remain closed at the Caesar’s Bay location.
“Comparatively, we’re doing great,” a manager from Best Buy said, asking to remain anonymous. “That’s like spraining a wrist and breaking an arm.”
Community Board 11 Chairperson Bill Guarinello and District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia spoke about the importance of helping out retailers at Caesar’s Bay at November’s board meeting.
According to Elias-Pavia, Bensonhurst lost 200 feet of sea wall at 17th Avenue. Board leaders said that there are close to 1,000 locals who work at the Caesar’s Bay shopping center.
“All their money for the rest of the year is made in the next few weeks,” Guarinello said, referring to the upcoming winter holidays. “There’s still water running under those buildings. We need to help them.”
Still, proprietors are trying hard to stay optimistic and get their businesses back on track.
Rob Sommer, the manager of D’Amore pizzeria at Caesar’s Bay, said that though his restaurant suffered monetary damages, he was lucky enough to avoid any vandalism post-Sandy.
“The cops did a great job,” said Sommer. “They closed off the parking lot and didn’t let anyone in while we cleaned up. I haven’t seen any looting.”
Yet Sommer admits the negative effects of this storm on his business. While the pizzeria was open on Halloween, just two days after Sandy hit, many people didn’t know they were taking orders. For the week after the storm, Sommer said the pizzeria did not get any delivery orders.
“It’s hard,” Sommer said. “Nobody has any money to shop. They just got to worry about taking care of themselves right now. Got to worry about recovering.”