Businesses far from the devastation can feel storm's impact – Post-Bulletin
Texas and Florida usually are the biggest markets for ReelSonar’s fishing devices and apps. But recreation isn’t a priority right now — and may not be for a while — in the states amid the devastation left by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Though ReelSonar is based in Seattle, thousands of miles from the damage, it’s feeling an impact from the storms. It’s the same for many small businesses with lots of customers or suppliers in disaster areas. Sales droped off as people and businesses prepared for the hurricanes and are likely to stay down as everyone assesses and deals with the damage.
“When you’re trying to put your life back together, fishing becomes secondary,” says ReelSonar owner Alex Lebedev.
He doesn’t know yet how much his revenue will be hurt but had an inkling from Amazon.com, where sales are down 70 percent from a year ago. His products also are sold in hundreds of sporting goods and camping stores in Texas and Florida. One saving grace is that the fishing season isn’t at its peak, and Lebedev is hoping to make back his lost sales during the holiday shopping season.
Companies that suffer losses because of a far-off disaster aren’t eligible for federal disaster aid the way businesses nearby might be. Most small businesses are unlikely to have the expensive and specific kind of business insurance that would cover them in such cases.
Many small businesses whose suppliers have been hurt by the storms are in limbo while they wait to hear how long it will take vendors to be able to send out merchandise or parts. Some companies might have to find alternative vendors.
The Critter Depot, based in Lancaster, Pa., sells live creatures such as