Sandy provides bump for Maryland grocers, others -- Gazette.Net


From retailers to insurers, numerous Maryland businesses saw increased business before and in the aftermath of Sandy.

Grocery and hardware stores had a big rush of customers seeking bottled water, batteries and other items in the days before the superstorm hit Monday.

Giant Food of Landover activated a command center to help monitor the path and progress of Hurricane Sandy. All 171 stores in Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia remained open during the storm.

“I'm incredibly proud of the way Giant associates … worked together in an all-hands effort to support our community to keep all 171 of our neighborhood stores open leading up to, during and following the storm,” Anthony Hucker, president of Giant Food, said in a statement.

Safeway of Pleasanton, Calif., which has its Northeast headquarters in Lanham, sent more items such as nonperishable goods to its stores during the days before Sandy hit, said Craig Muckle, a company spokesman.

Store managers encouraged employees who could show up Monday and Tuesday to do so, he said.

“Our employees are in the service business, so they’re used to trying to get there,” Muckle said.

Stevens True Value Hardware in Annapolis sold out a Saturday shipment of products such as flashlights, batteries, propane and sump pumps within five hours, said clerk Linda Stevens.

Ace Hardware & Hearth in Glen Burnie leaned on several close suppliers to ensure it had items customers needed, co-owner Peter Peterson said.

“When a person comes in and says, ‘You have batteries when nobody else had them,’ you know you’re doing your job,” he said.

More business for insurers, service businesses

Insurers were expected to receive an influx of Sandy-related claims starting this week. Allstate Insurance set up a mobile claims center at a Home Depot on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore this week.

Adam Polak, an Allstate spokesman, said it was too soon to know how many claims related to Sandy were made in Maryland, and that the company does not generally release that information.

Service businesses, such as tree removal companies, received increased workloads starting Tuesday.

Unlimbited Tree Service in Pasadena split its five crews into 10 so the company could better cover its target areas of Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and the Washington, D.C., region, said owner Chuck Preslipsky. Instead of using five-man crews, Unlimbited is having senior climbers lead separate crews, thus increasing its capability to reach affected areas, he said.

Unlimbited usually sees at least a 50 percent increase in calls after major storms and made similar preparations during last year’s storms and June’s derecho, Preslipsky said.