By Lauren Wanko
While Sandy decimated stores and restaurants along the shore, the superstorm sparked a boost in business for Michael’s Furniture in Brick.
“We probably tripled our business in the last two and half months after the storm,” Michael’s Furniture owner Michael Guarino said. “We just still can’t keep up with the amount of demand that we have at the moment.”
Michael’s Furniture has been so busy they had to add another 10,000 square foot warehouse just to keep the inventory. They added 14 new employees and a delivery truck, all to meet the demand of shore residents looking to replace the furniture they lost in the storm.
“Any given day in our store, approximately seven out of 10 people have been affected some way with the storm Sandy,” Guarino said.
Like Toms River resident Maria Moran. Flood waters inundated her Ocean County home. “We had to just throw everything out and watch, watch everything you own get crushed in a garbage truck,” she said.
Sandy left Moran with no other choice but to redecorate her entire home. “You have to pick everything out from paint to cabinets to bathroom so it’s hard, all at once,” she said.
Economist Steve Pressman says furniture stores aren’t the only sectors experiencing a boost in business. Construction, lawn care and car dealerships are also thriving, resulting in what’s known as the “multiplier effect.”
“The multiplier effect is really simple. Furniture store is doing really well, it’s selling more. What does it have to do? It has to hire more people. More people have jobs, more people have more incomes. What do they do? They go out and spend. And so other businesses in the area are going to have a benefit from that,” Pressman said.
But Pressman says that won’t result in a turnaround in the sluggish economy.
“We have two multiplier effects working, remember. One there’s the positive multiplier effect that works with the car dealers and that works with the furniture stores, but there’s the negative multiplier effect that works as a result of the fact that a lot of businesses are suffering. The two probably at this point have come close to balancing each other out, and so if they are balancing each other out there’s no net gains,” said Pressman.
Guarino realizes the dramatic increase in business won’t last forever.
“This is falsely stimulating the local economy,” he said. “I don’t see it being sustained for a period of time.”
It’s a boom Guarino predicts will last until residents along the storm-ravaged coast rebuild their homes and regain a sense of normalcy.