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Long Branch Business News Long Branch Stores Battle Hurricane Irene

Portraits of Long Branch Business

Nok Kim’s Spin Cycle Laundry

Much of Long Branch lost power after Hurricane Irene. Here are a few examples of how Long Branch retailers, both with and without power, met the challenges of that late-August storm. Ocean City Seafood gave away half the ice from its enormous refrigerators—a total of at least 200 pounds of ice—to local residents of Long Branch apartment complexes, many of whom lost power for several days. People came with their ice chests and got them filled up for free. While they were there, locals also purchased a great deal of fresh fish which, naturally, they then grilled outdoors since their kitchens had no power. Win-win! El Golfo Restaurant fed the hungry. Two days after Hurricane Irene knocked out electric power, “All the people came at once,” said owner Ada Villatoro. There were lines for tables all evening, and though they never ran out of food, the restaurant was short on staff. All the same, customers were patient and understanding. “They were glad to see us busy,” Ada said, and then added: “Hey, we survived a hurricane and an earthquake in one week! That’s (See Irene, back cover)

Next Business League Meeting! Tuesday, Sept. 13 9:00 am—10:30 am

at ‘ZP Tax’ 8736 Flower Ave.

September 2011 Volume 4, Issue 4

Nok Kim, the Korean-born owner of Spin Cycle Laundry on Flower Avenue, works hard to provide conveniences and creature comforts for his clients. In the summer, to help customers stay cool, Kim hands out popsicles for free. He also sells, at a tiny mark-up, a wide variety of tropical fruit bars and Good Humor ice creams. In the colder months he provides free hot coffee. Free candy is always available for the asking, though mainly for children; and when they ask for more than is good for them they get turned down … gently. Other conveniences include a massage chair, video games and a TV that plays both Spanish and English language cable channels. Kim’s laundry detergent is sold for less than retail prices. “It’s for the convenience of my customers,” Kim said. Of course there are also a great many washing machines—95, to be precise. Of these, at least 14 take very large loads. The two largest machines can wash 80 pounds at once. Kim spends most of the day on his feet,

walking back and forth to the curb to help customers haul their laundry bags from the car, or into the depths of the store to help someone with a question or a mechanical problem. He seems to be always available. Kim bought Spin Cycle from a friend about five years ago, using a combination of savings and bank loans. Why a Laundromat? “People say if you know how to fix machines, a Laundromat is a good business for you,” Kim said. After working twenty five years installing (See Nok Kim, back cover)

Inside this issue: Las Noticias en Español 2 Business League News

2

Cutting Energy Costs!

3

Flower Center Update

4


Business League Attends to Traffic, Liquor Control Headaches The Business League’s summer meeting covered a lot of territory, from traffic issues to charting the League’s future directions via a quick survey. But most of the conversation was devoted to just two themes: traffic hang-ups and liquor control. Cedric Ward, from the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), had volunteered to meet with the league after agreeing, at the League’s request, to study the need for a left-turn signal light at Piney Branch Road and Flower Avenue. He spoke first. Mr. Ward said that his study of the intersection had begun, but could not be completed until September when schools open again and traffic volumes return to peak levels. Even if the problems at the intersection affect only a small part of the day, this does not mean nothing would need to be done. “Traffic signals are designed to accommodate the worst-case situation during the day, even if that situation lasts only thirty minutes,” Ward said. Ward added that the SHA actively encourages the public to help it identify safety issues. “We value the input from our customers,” he said. The more effective way to bring a

specific issue to the SHA’s attention, he added, is to go onto www.marylandroads.com and click on ‘Contact SHA’. After the left-turn signal study is completed, Ward will submit his recommendation to the Office of Traffic Safety. If, as usually happens, it is accepted, the plan is put in the schedule, with priority given to places where the safety problems are the most urgent. Fortunately, thanks to the alreadycompleted modernization of the Flower and Piney Branch traffic signals, there will be no need for major infrastructure improvements. Assuming it is approved, the turn-around time for a new left-turn signal could be relatively fast. The meeting’s second speaker, Emily DeTitta, described the County’s innovative ‘Cops in Shops’ program. DeTitta is with the County’s Department of Liquor Control where she works as Outreach Manager. The Cops in Shops program, which is available on a voluntary basis, can help business owners deal with problem or aggressive drinkers. Maryland state law states that you cannot serve alcohol to someone who is intoxicated. But that is

often easier said than done. It can be extremely hard to turn away an aggressive client. Under the Cops in Shops program, plain-clothes police officers are invited into the restaurant or store where they pose as clerks and assist with turning away aggressive drinkers. After one or two such rejections, typically they stop coming back. Such interactions are also a learning opportunity for the restaurant’s owner and staff. DeTitta said that the program has done wonders in the past to build communities. To contact Emily DeTitta, call (240) 777-1904. The July 14 meeting of the Long Branch Business League coincided with the French national holiday, Bastille Day, which is why all the breakfast foods for the meeting had a French theme. But the French crepes, pastries and jam were ultimately snubbed after Nok Kim, owner of Spin Cycle Laundromat, walked into El Golfo (where the meeting was held) carrying a huge box of cupcakes he had brought in from Georgetown Cupcake. The cupcakes disappeared in a heart beat.

Noticias de la Liga de Negocios de Long Branch

durante el transcurso de un día, aunque esas situaciones solo duren treinta minutos", dijo.

La reunión de la Liga de Negocios de verano cubrió un temario muy grande y variado, pero la mayor parte de la conversación se centró a dos temas: retrasos en resolver problemas con el tráfico y el control de licor.

Ward dijo que el SHA fomenta y busca activamente comentarios por parte del público para ayudar a identificar problemas de seguridad vial. "Valoramos el aporte de nuestros clientes y usuarios", dijo. La manera más efectiva de tomar temas específicos y llevarlos a la atención del SHA, añadió, es visitar la página Web, www.marylandroads.com, y hacer “clic” en la sección 'Contact SHA' en el lado izquierdo de la página.

Cedric Ward, de la Administración Estatal de Carreteras de Maryland (Maryland State Highway Administration o SHA), se ha ofrecido como voluntario para reunirse con la liga después de haber estado de acuerdo, a petición de la Liga, para estudiar la necesidad de una señal de doblar a la izquierda en la Piney

Page 2

Branch Road y la Flower Avenue. Él fue el primero en hablar. El señor Ward comunicó que el estudio de la intersección se había dado inicio, pero no se pudo completar hasta este Septiembre cuando las escuelas públicas inician su año escolar y los volúmenes de tráfico retornaran a los niveles máximos. Incluso si los problemas en la intersección afectan solo durante una pequeña parte del día, esto no quiere decir que no haría nada para solucionar el problema. "Las señales de tránsito están diseñadas para ser adaptadas a las situaciones peores

Después de que el estudio de la señal para doblar a la izquierda haya sido

Long Branch Business News

(Ver. Pag. 3, Noticias)


How Can I Save on Energy Costs?! In recent years energy and lighting technology has been changing very rapidly, creating new ways to save energy and reduce costs. Governments and utilities are both looking for ways to get these technologies in use. Let’s start with what’s available from our local utility, Pepco. Their C&I Energy Savings Program offers incentives that can lower the cost of making improvements—for example, to lighting systems, heating and airconditioning (HVAC), or in fact any other type of equipment that uses electricity, whether it is a clothes washer or a machine tool. The incentives, which work more or less like rebates, vary widely. The incentive for a $65 high-efficiency LED exit sign, for example, would be $15. Note, however, that all items must be pre-approved by the utility before purchase. From the point of view of a store owner it will usually make more sense to look at small-scale upgrades, such as caulking windows or giving the furnace a tune-up. An energy audit will let you (Noticias, de pag. 2) completado, Ward someterá sus recomendaciones a la Oficina de Seguridad Vial. Si como suele ocurrir que la propuesta se acepte, el plan se agregará al cronograma con prioridad en los lugares donde los problemas de seguridad vial son las más urgentes o apremiantes. Afortunadamente, gracias a la modernización ya completada de las señales de tránsito de la Flower Avenue y Piney Branch Road, no existe la necesidad de realizar mejoras de infraestructura. Suponiendo que sea aprobado, las fechas de ejecución del nuevo proyecto de una nueva señal para doblar a la izquierda en la Piney Branch podría darse relativamente de manera rápida.

Volume 4, Issue 4

know which changes would give the biggest bang for your buck. Improving the efficiency of your lighting system could be as simple as replacing existing inefficient incandescent fixtures with new compact fluorescent light (CFL) fixtures. But it could also mean re-doing your store’s entire lighting design concept. Often it makes sense to add daylight or occupancy sensors. These will automatically make lights brighter as the sun sets or dimmer when the sun is bright—or turn them off altogether when no one is present. HVAC system replacements, while being more energy efficient, are unlikely to give a very fast pay off. But there are low-cost ways to make your existing HVAC system more efficient. Something called a ‘Variable Frequency Drive,’ for example, prevents motors on HVAC systems from running too fast and wasting energy and money. Pepco’s incentive program involves filling out some detailed forms, so you may wish to let a lighting or mechanical contractor do that part for you. Such El segundo participante en la reunión, Emily DeTitta, describió la idea innovadora del Condado del programa de “Policías en las Tiendas”. DeTitta trabaja para el Departamento de Control de Bebidas Alcohólicas del Condado como Gerente de Relaciones Públicas. El programa de “Policías en las Tiendas”, que está disponible en base a oficiales que se hacen de voluntarios, puede ayudar a los empresarios de negocios a manejar de mejor manera el problema de bebedores agresivos. Las leyes del estado de Maryland establecen que no se puede servir alcohol a alguien que este embriagado. Pero esa ley es más fácil citarla que ejecutarla. Puede ser muy difícil negar a servir un cliente agresivo.

assistance makes sense for another reason as well: it’s important to select the correct fixtures and equipment to meet your design needs. Pepco’s lighting ‘guru’ Cliff Madsen urges business owners to look beyond the savings one might get on a single lamp bulb. It makes much more sense, he says, to think about your store’s lighting design as a whole. “A business might be overlit in some areas and underlit in others,” Madsen said. A good lighting design concept will avoid both errors. Too much light wastes money. Too little might be unsafe, or ineffective from a marketing point of view. Then Madsen said something rather profound: “Lighting sells products. That’s what pays the electric bill ultimately.” One good place to start, says Madsen, is with your usual electrical contractor. Electricians, manufacturers and distributors are all interested in getting new customers, and have every reason to meet a retail customer half way. Especially in today’s economy. Coming Next Newsletter: Part II, Lowinterest loans for major energy upgrades En el marco del programa de “Policías en Tiendas”, oficiales de policía vestidos de civiles son invitados en el restaurante o tienda donde se hacen pasar por empleados y ayudar a alejar a bebedores agresivos. Después de uno o dos de tales rechazos, por lo general, los bebedores dejan de seguir llegando. Estas interacciones entre oficiales encubiertos y personas embriagadas representan también una oportunidad de aprendizaje para los dueños de los restaurantes y su personal. Emily comentó que el programa ha hecho maravillas hasta ahora para restaurar comunidades. Para contactarse con Emily DeTitta, llame al (240) 777-1904.

Page 3


Spin-Cycle’s Comfort Zone ( Nok

Kim, from page 1 )

sun roofs in cars at a large shop in Arlington, Va., Kim said he had gotten very handy. “The tools are the same.”

were right for one another,” Kim explained.

Now he works ten hours a day, seven days a week, running his own business. “Sometimes,” Kim said, “I take a day off.”

They spent a year writing letters back and forth, and then began exchanging phone calls as well. “Some months I had sixhundred dollar phone bills,” Kim said, grinning. “My mother was really mad.” Now they are married and have two sons. One is studying engineering in college. The other does graphic design.

When the economy was good he had no trouble covering his costs. But now, just as the economy has gotten worse, water costs have gone sky high. With fewer and poorer clients, things are getting tight.

On a recent summer day Kim’s wife, Mi Kim, worked with him in the Laundromat. Mi can join him there only during the summer months. During the school year she works as a cashier for a public school in Fairfax, Virginia.

It’s not just that people have less money than before. “A lot of people are moving back to their home countries,” Kim said. “Many customers tell me that they are going back to Central America – to El Salvador, Honduras.”

Perched on a ladder, buffing a lantern hanging from the ceiling, Mi softly hums a song to herself. With his wife present, Kim’s already warm smile seems even brighter.

His own family came to the United States twenty five years ago in pursuit, Kim said, of “the American dream.” They were also eager to leave behind a Korea which, at the time, had been shaken by a series of political upheavals, student-led riots and military coups.

Spin Cycle Laundry is located at 8735 Flower Ave.

Rains Delay Flower Face-lift

In the mid-1980s Kim nonetheless went back to Korea to marry the young woman whom relatives had urged him to meet after his move to the United States. “They thought we

Siguiente Reunión De la Liga de Negocios! Martes, Sept. 13 9:00 am—10:30 am En el ‘ZP Tax’ de la 8736 Flower Ave.

Samantha’s Johnny Ventura kept everything under control. (Irene, from page 1) going in a record book!” Samantha’s Restaurant lost power for two days and had to close. Quick action by manager Johnny Ventura kept losses to a minimum. “We lost a little bit, but it wasn’t a huge loss. I made sure we had everything on ice.” Spin Cycle Laundry turned into Grand Central Station for everyone who wanted to recharge their cell phone or computer after their homes lost power. According to owner, Nok Kim, some went so far as to disconnect the store’s nonessential machines (video games and the like) in order to connect their own electronics for recharging. “There must have been 50 to 100 people in here,” Kim said. Wishy Wash Laundromat lost electricity on Sunday at 2 a.m. and didn’t get power back again until Monday morning. Owner Rick Mollica nonetheless found a silver lining: “Most of the people who usually come on Sundays I saw on Monday.”

Construction sign at Flower Center Renovation of the Flower Center shopping strip has made major progress since construction began this June. All the same, the frequent rain, along with Hurricane Irene, has put a damper on the pace of construction. According to property owner Charlotte Wolpoff, the soggy weather

will likely end up delaying completion by a month. “It will probably be done by November,” Mrs. Wolpoff said, adding that at any rate she hopes construction will be completed before the cold weather sets in. Meanwhile, the tenants, she said, “have been just fantastic.”

Long Branch Business News, a quarterly publication Paul Grenier, Editor 301-622-2400, x 41 pgrenier@MHPartners.org


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