Businesses in one Staten Island neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Sandy are slowly starting to reopen as they continue to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
The Shop Smart Convenience store reopened in December after its owner poured his own money into completely renovating the storm-battered business.
Inside, workers admitted it hasn't been easy to be one of the only shops open in a neighborhood that's still rebuilding.
"There's almost nobody here," said Eddie Fresh of Shop Smart. "People are rebuilding their houses. "Slowly but surely, people are coming back, but not as before the storm."
That's why Fresh said he's glad to see other businesses finally come back to the area.
Midland Pharmacy, a Midland Beach anchor tenant that's been in the area for nearly two decades, opened a temporary storefront Friday. Work on its permanent location across the street is expected to be finished in June.
"We're going to pull through," said Jerry de la Ragione, owner of Midland Pharmacy. "I think coming back is going to help out us and the community, and then businesses will start to come around."
Vincent Bardong owns Merchant Advance Express, a private lending company. He said he briefly thought about not returning, since his business was only open for a month before Hurricane Sandy. But he did reopen two months ago, and his business has since expanded.
"It's a call center, so as long as we have somewhere to feed our workers, we're good," Bardong said.
While there are many businesses along Midland Avenue whose owners are in the process of rebuilding or are have already reopened, there are still others that remain closed, and it's uncertain whether or not they'll come back at all.
"It really depends on everyone's situation," said Rep. Michael Grimm. "For some, some of these owners had multiple businesses, and they're focusing on their other businesses now, and waiting to see what happens. So it really is a case by case basis."
The owners of a print shop in the area decided to sell their building and retire. Grimm said he's sad to see the long-time business go, but said he's optimistic the coming weeks will bring even more reopening celebrations.