A Survivor's Story
On the morning of September 11, J&R was about to open for another typical weekday, which might consist of thousands of walk-in customers speaking any number of languages. Company attention was focused on the upcoming Microsoft XP launch, widely anticipated to provide a needed seasonal boost for the entire industry. In the space of 15 minutes, all that changed. Moments before the store's 9 a.m. opening, the first plane struck the nearby Trade Center.
Co-founder Rachelle Friedman, the 'R' in J&R who along with husband Joe, the 'J' in J&R, makes up the eponymous J&R, was preparing for her day at the N.A.R.M fall conference in Florida when she received the first stunned call from her assistant. Remarkably, Ms. Friedman was in precisely the same hotel back in 1993, the last time terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center. Within moments, harried questions of whether the first plane crash was merely a tragic accident were answered in no uncertain terms. The stores were immediately closed, though at that point, the events and response were only beginning to unfold.
"The police and fire departments had to make use of some of the stores, hoping to use our location as a triage center," says Friedman. "Unfortunately," she says, sadly, "there wasn't as much need for triage as they thought." Instead, J&R became a temporary command center for the emergency crews, who gathered by the hundreds at the store's doorstep to strategize and deploy the firefighting and rescue mission.