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Wary About Taking on Loans, Hoboken Business Owners Urge Local Shopping

Many businesses are still closed in town, while business owners struggle to open their doors for holiday shopping.

Power has been switched on and some normalcy has returned since Sandy hit, but many business owners in Hoboken are still struggling.

While some businesses are simply closing or moving, others are fighting hard to stay in Hoboken. And the only way to do that, said restaurant owner Eugene Flinn, is to spend money at home.

"The biggest stimulus for us," said Flinn, the owner of Amanda's and Elysian Cafe, "is ourselves."

Flinn, as well as about 150 other business owners, attended a meeting hosted by the city, FEMA and the Small Business Adminitration on Wednesday night at Hoboken High School. FEMA and SBA were there and are offering loans for businesses to get back on their feet.

But borrowing more money is a daunting proposition for many business owners.

"It's adding insult to injury by borrowing more money," said Anthony DeGennaro, the owner of River West Plumbing and Heating Supplies, located in uptown Hoboken.

"It was a struggle with the economy as it was," DeGennaro said. And that was before 4,5 feet of water engulfed his store, destroying computers, the floor and much more.

"We are not going to recoup just by borrowing more money," Flinn said.

About 27 food establishments in Hoboken were still closed as of Tuesday, said the city's Health Inspector Frank Sasso. Before opening, those places will have to be inspected again.

One of those places is Rogo's Bar & Grill at Seventh and Willow. Owner Ed Rogovich is still renovating the place after two feet of water ruined the floor and walls.

While unable to open just yet, Rogovich said he is determined to stay in Hoboken. On Wednesday night, he attended the meeting to see if he could apply for a loan.

"Bills are still coming in," Rogovich said. He said he applied to FEMA and was looking into an SBA loan. "I'm trying to get up and running as quickly as possible."

Rogovich, who didn't have flood insurance, said repairs could be as much $50,000. He added that he lost at least between $5,000 and $6,000 in product.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer also attended the meeting on Tuesday, vowing her support for local businesses and promising to help them get back on their feet.

"We want you to stay in Hoboken," she said, "for many, many years."

At least one business owner, however, is leaving. Anastasia Kamper has On Tuesday, she attended the meeting to find out if there was any funding from FEMA available.

Zimmer said the city will partner with the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce in the coming weeks to encourage Hobokenites to shop local and spend money at home.

XJS November 15, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Suggestion: Free meters Saturdays & Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
mrs. farrell November 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I am extremely saddened to learn that Anastasia is closing up shop. Her store has been a bright spot in Hoboken for as long as I can remember and she will be sorely missed.
Eric Kurta November 15, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Free metering simply results in residents and non-shopping visitors taking up most of the spots, resulting in low turnover and low availability of parking for shoppers.
XJS November 15, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Other towns do it. It's a feel good measure to bring people into town. They show up, can't find a free meter & park in a garage. No?
XJS November 15, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I've bought many gifts at Anastasia's over the years. It's truly a sad day.
Rory Chadwick November 15, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Anastasia's is more than just a landmark store, Anastasia and Beth for years helped grow and build Shop Hoboken and Customer Appreciation Night in Hoboken. With their departure comes a loss of very caring and devoted local business leaders. It is beyond sad for those of us that will miss their kindness and efforts in making Hoboken a great place to shop. Sort of feels like losing a family member, that's how much Anastasia and Beth mean to me.
PeoplePlease November 16, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Someone with some pull needs to enact a city stimulus ASAP. I think a deregulation of parking garage and meter fee's would be a nice step. I also think someone needs to shoot a nice :30 spot and buy some time on Cablevison. Let NJ know Hoboken is open for business....but not business as usual. A midnight madness event where stores are open until midnight, a sidewalk sale Saturday and even maybe outdoor restaurant setups where visitors to the city can sample restaurant cuisine for $1 is also a good idea. The chamber of commerce needs to fork over some $$ for the spot which you can produce for ~$1000 and buy spots on Cablevision for....id say $140 - $155 a spot. With an investment of $5000 you can get the word out to the rest of Hudson, Bergan, Essex and Union counties that Hoboken is Open For Business. The mayor's office needs to get involved as well.
franksinatra November 16, 2012 at 01:52 AM
this won't directly help many businesses right now, but it will eventually--Dawn and the city council should work to immediately ease our extremely onerous rent control law. Something along the lines of what the referendum proposed--if it doesn't pass when all the votes are counted--but if Dawn wants more protections for tenants, then add that in. Rent control seriously discourages landlords from maintaining and investing in their properties and with so many properties ruined by the flood, there is a danger that many landlords just won't put enough money back into them. Hoboken will be in danger of falling back into the cycle of decline and decay that it experienced until the 70s. Many parts of the city look very run down now. Anything that can be done to encourage rebuilding needs to be done and pronto.
PeoplePlease November 16, 2012 at 06:04 PM
High rents drive out families, and those in their 20's and 30's. If you take that away from Hoboken, you might as well close up Washington Street now. If there are landlords out there that do not want to keep their buildings up to code, well then I think the city would like to hear about that.
franksinatra November 16, 2012 at 08:08 PM
reining in rent control slightly to bring it into line with other cities in the region and to help out mom and pop landlords who rent out a unit or two in their houses will not result in high rents and certainly won't drive out people. it hasn't in JC or other nearby towns. most renters i know want a well-maintained apartment with modern appliances, good lighting, etc. it's renters who will benefit most from an easing of our draconian rent law. the reform measure came so close to winning--and may still win--because many renters realize rent control is not in their best interest. Rents would come down--as they do in cities that ease up on rent control--because the supply will grow. Homeowners who want no part of the city's arbitrary rent control bureaucracy would now be encouraged to rent out units in their homes. Very few cities around the country still have rent control. We're still clinging to an anachronistic policy that has long since been proven to lead to urban decline. None of the myths about higher rents and people being driven out hold up when other cities have cut back on rent control. Why would Hoboken be different?
Laurie Michelson November 17, 2012 at 12:34 PM
its the end of an era
Indiecom November 18, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Are you out of your mind? Rent control has nothing to do with business or business stimulus and does not belong on this thread. Better idea would be to help the businesses that are struggling in the aftermath of Sandy would be to ENACT rent protections for businesses...if only we could.
Old Timer November 18, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Why would Hoboken be different than Boston or Cambridge where a year after rent control was (very narrowly) voted down in the state of Massachusetts rents for all, including units that had never been subject to rent control, went way up? I have no doubt that the already very wealthy real estate industry in this town are doing everything they can to drive out small landlords so they can tear down smaller buildings and put up more ugly-looking large rental buildings that they market to young New Yorkers. They have shown that they care nothing at all for the residents, the community and for the charm of the real Hoboken. They just want to continue to exploit it for their own profit despite already making hundreds of millions in Hoboken yearly already. They are the ones that have driven many small businesses out of Hoboken, destroying the diversity of types of businesses available and leaving for the most part only a few types of shops like nail salons, dry cleaner and, oh don't forget, real estate companies in their place. They have already succeeded in driving out much of the original population who made this town so desirable and now they want to get their greedy claws in what they haven't managed to grab onto. If people let them have their way Hoboken will be just another ugly bedroom town full of charmless units with no real community feel. They are a blight in Hoboken and people would be wise to stop them. Real Frank Sinatra would spit on you for so falsely using his name!
Hazel November 18, 2012 at 03:33 PM
franksinatra wants to use our recent crisis to usher in 'free market' laws that are profitable to developers and real estate agents but not to residents. It's called disaster capitalism. It went on in NOLA - it's how they got rid of subsidized housing and all the schools are charters. "Many parts of the city look rundown now" he says. Really? What parts are those? The article above is talking about the hard time small shop owners in Hoboken are having. One of the reasons it's so risky opening a store in Hoboken is because the rent is so high. And they don't have rent control. Maybe now is the time, since Hoboken just went to the polls and reaffirmed rent control, to institute some kind of commercial rent control for the small businesses that got hurt. How 'bout that?
franksinatra November 20, 2012 at 01:15 AM
OT and Hazel sure know how to spew left-wing garbage. The end of rent control in Boston was a huge success and the city is far better off. The rents did not go up. OT--you just have an irrational hatred of real estate people. Were you not able to cash in when the gentrification here started? Blaming the real estate industry instead of yourself won't help. Hazel -- the schools in Nola are so much better with the rise of charters than they ever were before. Endless studies have shown this. Check your facts before commenting next time. The parts of the city that look rundown are the parts hit by the flood. It's going to be expensive to fix those buildings up and easing up on our ridiculously onerous rent laws would encourage owners to put the money into their buildings and make this city better than ever. Rent control for shops? Remember, two wrongs don't make a right.
Indiecom November 20, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Once again, FS, this thread is about Hoboken businesses & the problems they are facing in the wake of Sandy, which has absolutely nothing to do with rent control. A completely unrelated topic that you inserted into a thread where it didn't apply. And before you suggest that OT & Hazel put out comments that you felt compelled to respond to as their views don't coincide with your extremist, right-wing, race to the bottom garbage (to borrow your word) & nonsense, next time stay on topic & people with much more knowledge about an off-topic comment that you introduce won't have to chime in & slap you down. And speaking of nonsense: the end of rent control was anything but a huge success in MA. Rents doubled in Boston & thousands were displaced when rent protections were removed. Is that what you call a success? Sure, real estate lobbying interest groups and positioning papers would dishonestly report otherwise and the corporate media is never going to tell the truth, but only a fool would accept them as their sources of full information. Try peeling below the layers of propaganda sometime and you might learn something. Oh & I can't sign off w/o commenting on Charter Schools & how 'great' you suggest NOLA schools are now (despite 57% of the charters having now re-opened as non-charters) may I point you to Diane Ravitch's book The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
franksinatra November 20, 2012 at 06:29 PM
What don't you understand about the connection of rent control to helping our businesses? Encouraging landlords (and many buildings have apartments and commercial space) to fix up their properties so our town doesn't become permanently run down has everything to do with supplying much-needed customers so our shops and restaurants can stay in business. Is it extreme to favor an easing of our completely over-the-top rent laws? 99% of the country doesn't have any rent control at all. It appears I'm in the mainstream and you're off on the far edge of the fringe. You want the city to keep dictating rents for apartments. You're suggesting that the city also set rates for commercial rents. Where would you stop? Why not control food prices? Why not have the city tell the A&P and Kings what to charge? Food is at least as important as housing. See how silly your support for government coercion is? And we know all about Ravitch. She was a big education reformer for years, then fell in love with high-level teachers' union official and threw all her reform principles out the window. Not sure if she's living happily ever after. You can hate charter schools all you want and fight to make sure kids continue to get bad educations, but some would call that extreme.
demosthenes November 20, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Towns without parking shortages do it. Free parking means nothing in a town where you can't find a spot. What works elsewhere doesn't necessarily make sense in Hoboken and vice versa.
demosthenes November 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I think the point is that whatever your views on rent control, it has nothing to do with shops deciding to close their doors due to the losses they suffered as a result of the storm. Trying to twist this into a rent control discussion is an insult to the very real people suffering very real financial hardship due to this terrible storm. Please stop.
PeoplePlease November 20, 2012 at 08:28 PM
But sadly...nothing unique will be done... :(
MadisonMonroe November 20, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Now is exactly the time to reconsider issues such as rent control. When a natural disaster occurs, a smart government uses the opportunity to rethink its antiquated policies in all areas. New Orleans had some of the worst schools in America and it was a godsend to those children that the schools went in a different direction after Katrina. Some good needs to come out of disaster. Do you really believe Diane Ravitch wouldn't have sent her child to a pre-Katrina school? If the Hoboken city government thinks that financially struggling residents and/or businesses need help with food, it doesn't order A&P to give that food away for free or at a discount. Yet that is exactly what the city does with rent control. It tells homeowners (mom & pop as well as the Barrys) that they - not the city - have to give away their product (an apartment) at a steep discount. Now is the time for the city to say all the taxpayers will underwrite cheap rent, not just those who happen to have an apartment in their home. Then everyone will have a stake in the process and will take a harder look at just who gets the rent control freebies. (yes, freebies). Unlike food stamps, rent control is not means-tested. How is that fair?

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