Shop Small Business for Sandy Relief

As a lot of you know, I am no stranger to hurricanes. In fact I’m no stranger to planning an event in a hurricane. ( Which you might have learned from my  post on for Dance USA’s From the Green Room.)  Growing up in the New Orleans area meant that hurricane evacuations were as common for us as snow days are for our friends in the north. Brides along the Gulf Coast often avoid summer dates in hopes of their big day being spared from the deluge hurricanes bring. While I had my wedding at the tail-end of hurricane season, I was still lucky to be spared a major storm during the season. Had a hurricane hit, even months before my wedding day, my plans might have been sunk.

Recently, I had lunch with my friend Lauren who is from coastal New Jersey, which was one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. Both Lauren's sister and mother were deeply affected by the storm. Lauren's sister Julie, who lives in lower Manhattan, was just days a way from her wedding when Sandy barreled into New York.  With her apartment completely flooded, Julie still managed to make the walk down the aisle, despite last minute venue changes and hotel block cancellations. To learn more about Julie's ordeal you can check out her story in The New York Times. 

Still even harder hit, was Lauren's mother, Janie Feldman. Janie owns Paper Chase, a small wedding/gift shop located just two blocks from the Jersey shore.  Janie works personally with couples on their wedding paper needs, including shower and wedding invitations, save-the-dates, thank you cards, place cards, etc. While she doesn't make the invitations, (she retails products from a number of stationery/invitation companies), she does do in-house printing of programs and place cards. The store even includes a“cozy” invitation studio” where couples can select and personalize invites.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, the shop was completely flooded. Janie lost tens of thousands of dollars in inventory, as well as all fixtures and furniture in her store. She had very little flood insurance; so, the damage was not covered. Following the storm, the structure of the building itself had to be restored (the walls had to be cut so that moisture and mold could be removed, and then repaired and the carpet ripped up). 

During the clean-up process, there was an amazing outpouring of help and support from the community. Some were customers, some were just caring strangers. People came in off the streets to lend a hand and volunteer their time. Her employees, many of whom worked for her for over a decade, worked tirelessly on a volunteer basis to clean up the store and get it ready to reopen. Her manager made house calls so that they could continue to serve the needs of their wedding and other invitation customers.

Because of the extent of the damage, Janie was unsure as to whether she would be able to reopen the store. However, after seeing the outpouring of support and a true desire from the community for her store to continue and flourish, she decided she couldn't walk away. After being closed for more than six weeks, she re-opened a little over a week ago. 

So, if you are looking for the perfect invitations or maybe another wedding related item, you can visit Paper Chase online. The store also offers a bridal gift registry and has great options for bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts. Still have some last minute Christmas shopping to do? Well, the store is not limited to wedding items, as it sells a little bit of everything, including greeting cards children's toys, art, jewelry, handbags, housewares, etc. There's even a large selection of eco-friendly gift options.

What better way to shop for a cause than to help a local business get back on its feet! You still have time to make a big difference - after all there are still six shopping days til Christmas!

Here are a few of my favorite gift (or registry) ideas from Paper Chase online: