A Survivor's Story
Because of its relatively seamless diversification into catalog and Web sales, J&R has been able to withstand a blow that would have brought many retailers to their knees—the loss of six weeks of store traffic, encompassing the back-to-school season, a major product launch in the PC arena, and the final lucrative weeks of the tourist season. Further, the stores sustained considerable damage, including the omnipresent soot that blanketed lower Manhattan for days after the attack.
"The debris came in through the ventilation and air conditioning systems," says Rachelle Friedman. "It permeated the displays, which we've cleaned, but a lot of the products had to be consigned to a salvage company. Our escalator, the computers, the registers—they all had to be cleaned and tested. The rest will be dealt with through the insurance company."
Throughout the rebuilding process, the company has shifted its customer emphasis to fulfillment via its online and telephone sales operations, including free shipping to the New York metro area. Large signs on the storefronts, as well as print ads, advise customers of this service, as well as an estimated re-opening date. J&R shoppers have responded positively, according to Friedman. "We're able to monitor the sales that include free shipping, which shows us that our local customers are still with us."