After the mandatory evacuation was issued for Cape May County on Thursday due to Hurricane Irene, I deliberated over whether or not I would leave my home and shop to fend for itself. I was too young when Hurricane Gloria hit to remember much, so I didn’t have a reference for what it would be like to stay and weather the storm. Not only am I now older (obviously), I am a business owner. The Home Made house contains my entire livelihood. It’s my home. And, it’s my income.
While I understood why a business owner would choose to stay despite the government warnings, I decided to head to Philly for the weekend. I evaluated my possessions and inventory and concluded that it was more important for me to feel safe than to stay. I packed a few things, including three bags full of tomatoes from the garden, and headed for higher ground. With my fingers crossed for uninterrupted electricity, I spent a large part of the weekend trying to make something positive out of being evacuated. I turned those tomatoes into tomato sauce. Three pots worth.
Thankfully, the worst I came home to was lots of fallen branches. Even better, the lawn guys arrived this morning to help with the yard cleanup as I opened back up for business today. But, I know many other businesses weren’t able to open up due to loss of electricity, ruined crop, flooding or other damage. I know how their livelihoods depend upon when they can get back to work and now they have been delayed for four days and counting.
Customers come into Home Made and often ask me how business is going. Perhaps, because they’re just making conversation. Or they worry about the current economy and know that Home Made is a fledgling venture. Or maybe because my business is a little “out-of-the-box.” And, this question, “How is business?” is almost always followed by some really nice wishes that I stay in business and do well.
Natural disasters like Hurricane Irene can help us realize our priorities and also show us how lucky we are to have what we have. Our family and friends and pets are hopefully safe. Our homes and offices are hopefully free of damage. We can get back to work to get that paycheck. And, hopefully, our local businesses can open their doors again.
For me, the hurricane reminded me of the wonderful community that I’ve joined by moving back to South Jersey, in part due to Home Made. It also reminded me that to support each other, we need to put our well wishes into action. Local businesses are at the heart of our community and if we want to recover from a natural disaster (or a lousy economy), we need to buy from the local businesses we love–the ones we want to stick around.
Of course, I say this because I am a local business owner. I say it because some of my family and friends are business owners. But, I also say it because I know this community would not be the same without all the small businesses in the area.
I am proud to be a part of this community. I am grateful I was able to open today. And, I appreciate your business.