For one week, Chappaqua was a ghost town.
Chappaqua was one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, with 90 percent of New Castle residents without power and a majority of roads closed due to tree damage.
This left downtown Chappaqua virtually empty. Businesses had no power and many residents were unable or unwilling to travel into downtown.
Pete Zimmerman runs EZ Sports Inc., on South Greeley Avenue. The sporting goods store is back up and running after being closed for a week. He noted that in the aftermath of a storm, essentials like food are on people’s minds, not baseball gloves and tennis balls.
“It has been very quiet,” Zimmerman said. “You look down the street and you don’t see anything. Main Street USA is struggling.”
Zimmerman was without power for a week and didn’t have phone service for another four days. A 200-foot tree fell on his cottage in Armonk.
“That’s 10 days where you are virtually out of business,” Zimmerman said. “We are taking it day by day.”
Zimmerman, who supplies apparel to athletic teams, said that his orders for the last two weeks have been messed up. Despite the storm, he still came to work everyday.
“I did what I could do without phone or Internet,” Zimmerman said. “There wasn’t much to do.”
Many Chappaqua restaurants had to throw away food in the wake of the storm and lost business, as people went to restaurants in nearby Pleasantville and Mount Kisco, which were open and operational soon after the storm.
Gail Patrick’s Café in downtown Chappaqua was without power for a week, though the restaurant was able to offer limited service after the storm. Lange’s Little Store and Delicatessen on King Street was able to open a few days after the storm and provided food, shelter and Wi-Fi to many beleaguered residents.
“I came here and saw (owner) Richard Lange serving food and kids were running around playing,” Barbara Maddux said. “He told people to stay here and keep warm. After the first day, he went out and bought power strips so people could charge their phones and laptops. He couldn’t have been more wonderful.”
Maddux, who for two days could not get out of her street, came to Lange’s for three straight days.
“I can’t say enough good things about them,” Maddux said. “It was so nice here.”
Prescriptions for Fitness Inc. was one of the hardest hit businesses in the wake of the storm. The King Street gym was without power for more than a week and a half.
“We’ve all taken a financial hit,” owner Scott Reilly said. “But it’s nothing in terms of what’s happening out there. We lost a couple days of revenue compared to other people losing their homes.”
Prescriptions for Fitness was open without power, working around 30 percent productivity.
“We couldn’t use treadmills or stereos,” Reilly said. “But we made do. We lost revenue, but it is what it is. Our economy will pick up again and small businesses will flourish. We’re back and running.”
With power restored, business owners are now looking ahead, especially with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday looming. Many businesses are looking at relief efforts, raising money for the Red Cross and collecting unused Halloween candy to send to troops overseas.
“The merchants rose to the occasion and tried to help other communities that were hit harder,” said Robert Greenstein, president of the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a win-win. We wanted people to get back into the downtown and start visiting shops and the relief efforts encourage them. Everybody had a tremendous response.”
Greenstein hopes residents show their support for small businesses on Small Business Saturday.
“We’re gearing up for that,” Greenstein said.