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Financial losses continue for Smithfield businesses recovering from Matthew

Posted November 23

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— Many retailers are counting on a busy holiday shopping season to take their profits into the black. But for business owners hit hard by Hurricane Matthew, the holidays only mean more money down the drain.

For many Smithfield business owners, warehouses that should be stacked high with boxes ready to be shipped out are virtually empty and there are tables full of water-damaged merchandise.

Christmas decorations bring in the bulk of profits at OxBay Wholesalers in downtown Smithfield.

Co-Owner Chad Harris estimates $800,000 worth of decorations were ready to be shipped when Hurricane Matthew left the warehouse underwater.

“It was a bad time of the year, just bad all the way around,” Harris said.

Over the past 6 weeks, workers have hauled out the waterlogged items and painstakingly picked through what they could salvage. A community sale brought in some money, helping to cushion the blow, but customers are cancelling orders, and placing them elsewhere.

Oxbay has been forced to temporarily close its online store, and the losses heading into the holidays are adding up.

“Just a ballpark 2 to 2.5 million dollars, and now we’re faced with trying to make that up somehow,” Harris said. “It’s going to take a while, but like I said there is a next year so that’s a good thing.”

Harris said the Smithfield company is working hard to rebuild, and he said there is no there’s no doubt in his mind they will survive this.

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