This comes to us from Joshua Miller (on Facebook): “Enjoyed reading this article about my good friend, Barrie Kolstein. A true example of dedication and perseverance following Hurricane Sandy and the devastation the storm left in its wake. I’ve been going to the shop for over 20 years and it brings a smile and sense of pride every time I visit. Bravo, Barrie.”
A year after superstorm Sandy hit the US east coast, Long Island Newsday, follows up with some of the area’s local businesses.
Sandy still a drain on LI’s small businesses
KOLSTEIN & SON LTD., BALDWIN
Kolstein & Son is back in business, making and repairing string instruments in two buildings in Baldwin. The doors and interior walls have been replaced and fresh paint applied.
But owner Barrie Kolstein still isn’t at ease.
Kolstein has listed his property for sale, fearful of another storm.
“I never want to go through [that] again,” he said. “I can’t protect the buildings again, we never expected something of this magnitude.”
His buildings took a battering — the outside from the wind, and the interior from water damage as a result of sewer backups and broken pipes. The storm sent water from a nearby lake up a drainage ditch and into Kolstein’s buildings, and he’s not sure what has been done to fortify the drainage area, which is on public land, to prevent a recurrence.
It took four months of repairs before Kolstein could open again.
“Business is OK . . . considering a sagging economy, we’re back,” he said of the company, which his father started in midtown Manhattan more than 70 years ago.
Years before Sandy hit, Kolstein dropped his flood insurance because of skyrocketing premiums. Now he wants to move out and rent at another location. “Financially, it would be less expensive,” he said.
Kolstein’s 13,000-square-foot property has been on the market for $875,000 since summer, but there has been little interest. If he had sold the property before the recession, Kolstein estimated, it could have brought in more than $1 million.
He was able to obtain a grant of $25,000 from National Grid but was frustrated he could only apply for loans from the federal government.
Now he’s bought flood insurance again, after successfully petitioning to be grandfathered into a lower-risk zone that had a cheaper premium.
While his buildings were being repaired and his business had limited sales, Kolstein, 64, dipped into his retirement savings to make sure he could continue paying his eight employees.
“One thing I’m proud of,” he said, “is that I kept everybody employed during the whole loss.”