Over 70 blasted
retailers back to business
One third of street-level
firms to reopen by year-end
List of businesses opened and to re-open
Around 70 retail outlets and businesses that took a heavy toll from the Port Explosion are back in business.
More than 40 others are busy restoring their premises and are planning to resume their commercial activities in the next few weeks. They represent around one third of all street-level establishments in what is considered the blast’s front-line areas.
A survey conducted by InfoPro Research covering street-level businesses in Gemmayzeh, Mar Mikhael, and parts of upper Ashrafieh (Main and side streets) show a vibrant activity to restore and reopen businesses.
Noubar Korjikian, the owner of Cyclo Sport, a store for bicycles and their accessories, said that he has reopened the store and has so far repaired 85 percent of the damages. “I have used nylon film in place of the broken glass of the façade,” he said. Korjikian paid out-of-pocket the reparation costs totaling $3,000. “Many groups came and wrote reports, but they haven’t come back again,” he said. “It didn’t take too much to reopen as we are experienced in surviving and overcoming disasters. Bad situations only make us stronger,” Korjikian said. Sales are 60 percent below normal levels, but the business has been able to keep its two employees at regular salaries.
The repair bill for Saliba Market in Armenia Street, which is planning to reopen next month, exceeds $10,000. “I paid $1,800 to repair the glass facades and $1,000 for the door. I have also repaired the refrigerators and the walls,” said the owner of the grocery store, Joseph Saliba. He said he paid for restoration work from his own savings and from funds provided by family members. Saliba still has to fix the stacking shelves and buy the hardware to operate the cash register system but he is out of cash now. An architect has offered his help for free. Many government groups and several NGOs came to assess the losses, but so far nobody has offered any help, Saliba said. The only assistance they received was from the UNICEF which gave them two water tanks. The four employees who used to work at the supermarket left immediately following the blast. He will hire new workers.
Faten Attar, owner of Stroberry Advertising, said that the reparation cost of their offices located on Sursock Street, reached LL70 million not including equipment such as computers. She was able to withdraw LL50 million from her bank account. “The bank has provided similar facilities for all my employees who suffered damages from the blast,” she said. The documents required by the bank consisted of receipts of the amounts paid for reparation and photos showing the damages. The process took 24 hours. “I wanted to benefit for the zero-interest loan program recently announced to help people pay for rebuilding work, but I was told that it was not clear yet how the program will be implemented,” she said. All the damages suffered by her business were insured. The insurance company has promised to compensate for the damages. “I have repaired just the bare minimum that is necessary to make our offices operational again and enable the employees to work,” she said. Her business is operating at 30 percent of its level of operations a year ago. The company has kept its employees who continue to work from home. Attar said that even before the blast their employees were working in shifts due to the economic crisis and the lockdown. She said they would be able to start work from their offices in November.
Date Posted: Sep 18, 2020