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Price Gouging in Hoboken, NJ After Hurricane Sandy + The Heroes of Hoboken

Hoboken, NJ businesses in the wake of Hurricane Sandy - many doing great things while a handful took advantage, what are your thoughts?

As we all braced for Hurricane Sandy to hit Monday it appears that many businesses in Hoboken were gearing up to overcharge residents for goods, foods and services.  New Jersey’s anti-gouging law, prohibits price hikes of more than 10 percent in an emergency. The law does make an exception for merchants who face increased costs, but the markup is still limited to 10 percent above normal. In short, a pizza that is normally $13 should not be sold for more than $14.30, several area pizzerias and food establishments have been reported for increasing their prices from anywhere between 25% and 200%.  Fines in NJ can range from 10k-20k for first offense violators.

 

While the power in Hoboken was out, many businesses with gas powered ovens stayed open and cooked and baked by flashlight and candlelight.  On Tuesday afternoon and night, via recent posts on citysearch.com and yelp.com, it appears that many area food establishments were price gouging.  It also appears that once they got caught, they brought their prices back to nornam, in an attempt to blanket their evil ways.

 

An uptown pizzeria on Washington st according to yelpers was charging $40 for a pizza that according to their menu is $11.25.  Furthermore the menu indicated Tuesday night is a special where 2 large pizzas can be bought for $15.  Other yelpers complained that this same establishment was charging $7 for french fries that are normally $3.50 and charging $16 for entrees that are normally $8.  According to NJ's anti-gouging laws, this pricing is extremely excessive and surpasses the state mandated 10%.

 

Another pizzeria in town nearer to downtown was reportedly caught selling their large pies for $40 per pie according to yelpers.  In addition a Yelpers also pointed out a falafel establishment had raised its prices from $2.50 to $4. While $1.50 extra, yet above 10% some argue that given the circumstances the price jump here could be related to food costs increased and variety of other reasons, and nothing else on the menu was spiked in price.

 

Elsewhere on yelp a pizzeria on Washington Street was reportedly charging customers $10 for 3 slices.  While $3 per slice, people were made to buy 3 slices for $10 due to the pizzerias reportedly inability to make change.  While it's not overcharging, it is forcing someone to spend money they weren't intended to spend.

 

There were lots of "good guys" too in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Eugene Flynn, proprietor of both Amanda's and The Elysian Cafe was giving away free food last week to those that waited in line to get it.  Meatballs, french fries, crab bisque soup, macaroni and cheese all handed out to those hungry and at no charge.  If you wanted 2nd's, no problem.  Cugini Kitchen, located at 918 Washington St was another big hero in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  The eatery brought out a huge BBQ grill and cooked breakfast and lunch sandwiches for customers.  Breakfast sandwiches were all just $3 each with sandwiches topping out at $5.  Anthony David's, located at 10th and Bloomfield street cooked by generator and charged normal prices for everyone in the wake of the storm. 

 

Other local hero's open for business were Court Street Bar and Grill who never lost power.  The restuarant, who seeemed to be the only one with full kitchen and bar for days charged normal prices and extended it's specials nights for all.  Propietor Meghan Talbot even had a call from CNN to talk to her on air about being the only open establishment in town however due to the interview having to be done at night, Meghan told CNN she would pass on the 2 minutes of free advertising  to the world because she wanted t make sure all her customers were taken care of.  Local hot dog restaurant Windmill, located at 79 Hudson St was giving away free hot dogs for several days and on one day they invited residents with food that would spoil to use their grill to cook it, no charge of course.

 

Celebrity caterer Brett Bond, owner of Baltimore-based catering compnay Taste Events Catering, has served food for Elton John and is currently Brad Paisley's tour caterer. I was able to meet Brett at Moran's a few nights after the storm.  "I saw Mayor Zimmer's pleas for help on the new and had to do something about it.  I packed up my food trucks with 5000 pounds of food and drove 4 hours to Hoboken.  Over the course of several days Brett and his staff served round the clock free meals for hungry Hoboken residents.

 

What experiences did you have in Hoboken?  We're you price gouged at all or did you find any other loving business owners that were helping out the community?  Feel free to put your comments below.

 

 

 

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mrvrnj421 November 12, 2012 at 09:10 PM
To me, regardless of what is legal or not legal, it is more about helping out the community during a time of need. You can argue all day about economics, but it is not necessary to charge $40 for a pizza. The people you are ripping off are the same people that help you keep the lights on, and that is a good way to lose customers and go out of business.
07030 November 15, 2012 at 02:02 PM
The tiny grocery on the corner of 3rd and Garden was in the dark but open the morning following the storm and all days after. There was no price gouging (large 8'' tall votive candles for $1.79) and they had a full supply of just about anything you would want. Thanks guys and Happy Dawali - good karma coming your way for sure.
mrvrnj421 November 15, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Beowoof, the pet store (I believe it's on 5th and Madison), opened up soon after the storm despite no electricity. They provided miniature electric "lanterns" to help people shop around and there was no change in prices. Kudos to them for helping pet owners care for their animals and not taking advantage of anyone. While it is sickening to hear about businesses trying to capitalize on this tragedy, it seems there are far more businesses that did their part to help out than there are businesses that exploited the community. THAT is what it's all about.
Christine Marshall November 15, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Beowoof is on 106 Fifth Street between Bloomfield and Washington. This is by far the best pet store in Hoboken. Christine
mrvrnj421 November 15, 2012 at 02:48 PM
That's right, thanks for the correction Christine.

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