Tornados, Floods and Fires ---- What's Going On?
Recently good friends of mine, Jim and Judy Cooke, lost their entire furniture store to the devastating tornado in Joplin, MO. I have other good accounts in Bismarck and Minot, North Dakota whose towns are literally underwater. My home town of Omaha is surrounded by water reaching record levels. In all this devastation it is tough to find a silver lining.
But when I talked with Jim and Judy recently, they were the most upbeat people showing the true spirit of American entrepreneurship. Within one week of every business asset of theirs being wiped out, they had arranged temporary space while their main store is rebuilt. Saturday, less than one month from the time the tornado went through and destroyed their store, they have a temporary location stocked with goods and open to the public. Of the 180-200 businesses destroyed in Joplin, many to never open again, Jim and Judy are the first business to reopen in a temporary location.
They have made arrangements to reconstruct their original store and be open by late fall. Their staff all have stayed and put in the effort and time to make the business successful. The business community has opened their arms to all who are affected, but who like Jim and Judy, want to invest again in free enterprise.
One might ask with all the devastation, why put the effort into reopening a furniture store. For Jim and Judy and others in communities like Bismarck and Minot, the thought of not opening never even occurs. They love what they do, they love the community they are in, and they feel an obligation to help their customers who have suffered similar devastating losses on a personal level.
In Jim and Judy's case, over 6900 houses were destroyed in Joplin, many of which were homes to their customers. Certainly some people will move on, but a vast majority will want to rebuild or find other housing in the community. Those people will need new furniture and therein lies the silver lining for our industry --- the rebuilding and refurnishing of America.
Tornados, floods and fires are terrible things. But the response to the victims by the community, industry and entrepreneurs really is something no other country can duplicate. We have great resources in our country, but our greatest resources are the can do attitudes of people like Jim and Judy Cooke. They could have thrown in the towel after being wiped out, but instead called out to all who could help and within one short month are back in business helping community and customers put their lives back together.
To all those in our industry who are impacted by natural calamities, our hearts and prayers go out to you for your loss. Our industry, time and time again has reached out to people in need, willing to help when tragedy strikes. Times like this bring out the best in everyone. It's why I love this country and I love the furniture business.