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After Sandy

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A t-shirt shop owner uses the experience of the storm to rethink his business and his life.

In the months after Sandy, small businesses in Hoboken reported up to 70 percent declines in revenue. Throughout the city, they posted signs in their front windows, desperately trying to lure back customers by urging them to “Shop Local.” One of the local entrepreneurs was Brian Carr, who runs a company called Solid Threads, which designs and prints popular and edgy graphic t-shirts. After losing most of his equipment and inventory in the flood, he decided to give up his retail location and sell exclusively over the Internet.

Sandy caused Carr to rethink a lot of things, not just about his business, but about the direction of his life. After being firmly rooted in Hoboken for several years, he decided after the storm to sell his condo, and is in the process of relocating to Burlington, Vermont so he can escape the urban environment and be closer to nature. He plans to re-brand his business and come up with new t-shirt designs that are more closely aligned with themes that are now central to his own experience, like people following their hearts and doing inspiring things. He also plans to make shirts for nonprofit organizations to help raise money for various causes.

“None of what has happened in the past year would have taken place the way it has if it was not for Sandy,” he said, noting that he’s been traveling a lot more, has embraced living lighter, and now listens to his heart more than his mind. “My time in Hoboken was incredibly valuable, and it will always be part of who I am and what the business is,” he said, “but it’s time to move on to the next phase of my life.”

In the aftermath of Sandy, Carr began started selling a special, benefit t-shirt on his company’s website, with half the proceeds going to Hoboken storm relief efforts. The shirt pretty much summed up how he felt, and it’s a feeling he said could help others in his situation if they have the courage to persevere. It’s royal blue with a giant smile on the front, and simply says the words, “Irrational Sense of Optimism.”

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