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NewsBusiness

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On the West Bank, Mom & Pops Start Over

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By James Lomuscio

Rick Falcone, owner of Art’s Deli on Post Road West, officially reopened Monday after two weeks of a shuttered business due to Storm Sandy.

WestportNow.com Image
Art’s Deli and Age of Reason on Post Road West were hard hit by Storm Sandy. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

But today Falcone said the struggles, financially, are far from over even though the more than foot high waters are long gone and most of his food has been replaced.

“It makes me sick talking about it,” he said citing $12,000 in lost gourmet, Italian food and at least another $13,000 in destroyed freezers, coolers and required electrical repairs.

To make matters worse, his insurance policy does not cover flooding since the business a few doors down from the West Bank of the Saugatuck River “is in an overflow area,” said Falcone.

“I called my insurance company, and the basically hung up on me,” said Falcone, a Fairfield resident.

In addition to replacing all the food and refrigeration out of pocket, he also has to redo the entire store’s electrical wiring and outlets.

As he spoke, electrician Fred Slosson of Fairfield, one of several contractors Falcone has brought in, was on the floor under the deli display, replacing all the lamp ballasts for the cooler.

“We’re still at it,” said Slosson.

Falcone said he had no idea what the electricians’ bills would be, but he hoped he would be able to catch up with the losses through more business.

Despite his hardships, Falcone said he took comfort in the way Westport’s first responders came to his aid when the store flooded.

“If anything I want to thank the Fire and Police departments,” he said. “They did nothing but help me. These guys are unbelievable.”

A few doors down, Dina Berger, owner of the Age of Reason, the scientific and educational toy store that had been hit with 3.5 feet of water inside, had similar praise for the community.

“Two women came in off the street to help us,” Berger recalled about they day she began cleaning up. “These are the Good Samaritans Westport has. I’m very thankful we live in such a nice town.”

Unlike Falcone’s, Berger’s store did not suffer any electrical damage, and all the outlets were later deemed safe to be re energized, said store worker Jill Clark.

“We’re having an out-of-the-box sale now,” Clark noted about toys that were unharmed though the cardboard packaging got wet. “It’s below wholesale, so something selling for $16 would be $7.”

According to Berger, who opened the store in 1983 at 21 Post Road West before moving to 19 and 15, she lost about $40,000 in retail stock.

“That’s just in merchandise,” she said, noting that repairs would be needed.

“I can’t tell you how it hurts to throw things out,” she said. “We donated everything we could through a friend who works at a kids’ shelter.”

For those interested in supporting these stores, Age of Reason is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Art’s Deli’s hours are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Posted 11/14 at 12:19 AM 

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