Businesses hit by Hurricane Florence rebuild in time for holiday shopping season

Businesses hit by Hurricane Florence rebuild in time for holiday shopping season
Modern Legend sells Florence survivor mugs - the shop itself is a survivor of the storm. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As we approach Christmas, some of the businesses hit hardest by Hurricane Florence are back open and they’re counting on you to shop local.

In a WECT News special, we meet some of the resilient business owners who rebuilt following the storm but have a long way to go before business is back to normal.

Swahili Coast is located temporarily at the Cotton Exchange and inside Chandler’s Wharf in downtown Wilmington. The shop lost its primary retail space along Front Street. Its owner, Caroline Fisher, has a unique motivation to keep the business going.

Swahili Coast lost its Front Street shop during Hurricane Florence.

Modern Legend, also in downtown Wilmington, closed for weeks following the storm. The store sells vinyl records, coffee mugs, clothing and gifts.

Modern Legend reopened after storm damaged forced the shop to close its doors for weeks.

Snowden’s Jewelers was hit with a double whammy during Florence. The storm damaged the building at University Center. Looters targeted it too, breaking in during the height of the hurricane and stealing $100,000 worth of merchandise.

“It’s heartbreaking,” store owner Chris Snowden said. “We’ve been in business for 28 years. My dad and I started the store. We’ve been through however many hurricanes we’ve had over the past 28 years and we’ve never been broken into before. To think that we as a community we’re going through the things that we’ve gone through and somebody took the opportunity to take advantage of that and they weren’t looting something that was a necessity for life, they were after jewelry.”

Snowden spent weeks rebuilding and the shop’s open and ready for holiday shopping.

Snowden's Jewelers was hit by the hurricane and by looters.

In Surf City, the owners of Mia’s Marketplace feel lucky to be back in business. Some stores there lost their entire buildings. The beach was also shut down to visitors for several weeks following the storm.

The owners of Mia's Marketplace in Surf City feel grateful in the aftermath of Florence.

At the Cotton Exchange in downtown Wilmington, water seeped into Carolina Beads and Gemstones. The shop owner and employees evacuated, so when they returned, there was extensive damage from mold.

We talked to the store manager about the storm and its aftermath.

Carolina Beads and Gemstones is open in time for the holidays.

TheatreNOW had a different kind of impact from the storm. The performance venue lost out on two weekends of its dinner shows due to the storm. It has a special holiday-themed production on stage now. For tickets and show times, click here.

TheatreNOW lost out on two weekends of performances because of Hurricane Florence.

These businesses are among the fortunate ones.

According to FEMA, 40% of businesses damaged during a natural disaster never reopen.

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