for Korean Business: The Blackout of
From Joong Ang
Aug 15, 2003
Korean businesses across the New York area were hit
by the largest blackout in U.S. history. Under the continuously
after 9/11, this event was the last thing they expected. Several
owners were affected at different levels, depending on the duration
of the power outage. The Business Owners’ Associations estimated
the loss and looked for the remedies.
The fresh food delivery industry
estimates their losses at above $10,000, averaged per business.
Some stores even ended up with
a deficit this month due to the one-day blackout. SeMok Lee, the
president of the Korean Produce Association, Inc., complained, “This
disaster made our tough market worse.” For instance, the
wholesalers in Hunts Point, Bronx, could not deliver fruits to
stores on that day, so although stores opened on the weekend, they
are expected to have a shortage.
Around 2,000 of the Korean Deli-grocery
stores across New York City were affected, and their losses reaches
above $20 million.
All the refrigerated products had to be thrown out and for at least
two or three days, they suffered from a shortage of supplies. To
make matters worse, many refrigerators did not work because of
long hours of no power. A limited number of available repair services
and time-competing reparation forced them bear whatever cost their
repairing service required. KunWoo Lee, the president of the Korean
Grocer’s Association of New York, explained, “Until
the afternoon after the day of blackout, half of the stores could
still not manage to open. They will solve their individual problems
at first, then will look for collective compensation.”
nail salons, the business usually reaches a peak on weekends. But
many stores were still closed on the 15th due to the blackout.
One owner said, “To compensate what we lost on Friday, when
most customers come to the salon, we had no choice but work on
Sunday.” However, their damage was relatively small compared
to other businesses, because they use less electricity. JooSuk
Bang, the president of Korean Nail Salon Association of New York
said, “I am trying to make a statistic chart of damages to
our member stores, but it is hard to get through phone lines.” On
the other hand, EunSil Kim, of the Korean Nail Salon Association
of New Jersey, said, “In New Jersey, many stores closed early
on 14th and now, all salons are back to normal. Even some stores
have more customers than before, because those who couldn’t
go to work visited to get manicures.”
The damages are severe
in restaurants. From the beginning of the blackout, Korean restaurants
lost dinner customers, and lots of
food had to be thrown out. Many fresh seafood restaurants especially
had to get rid of fish, because oxygen and air generators in the
fish tanks went off. Not only sushi restaurants, but most other
restaurants usually prepare a day’ ingredients in the morning
and keep them in the refridgerator, which had to be emptied that
day. One employee in a restaurant in Elmhurst, Queens, mentioned
that the amount of garbage the morning after the blackout was more
than twice the normal amount.
Korean fisheries were affected the
most. ChangRae Choi, the president of the Korean Seafood Association
of New York, said, “In
Queens, Brooklyn, and Downtown Manhattan, we were less affected
due to relatively early recovery of the system, however, in other
places including Bronx, the industry was seriously damaged.” He
added, “It was hard to find any ice to keep seafood cool,
so all went into garbage. The Fulton market couldn’t go back
to normal until the next Monday. Early morning on Friday, ice trucks
with fish arrived and returned, because delivery workers at the
market weren’t there to pick them up. On the 15th, Korean
seafood retail barely reached 30 percent of normal Friday sales.
I am still estimating the exact number of damage.”
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Translated from Korean by Joo Yeon