No prom equals another punch in the gut to NJ businesses
Like tax season for an accountant, or late November through December for toy shops and department stores, right now is typically the biggest time of the year for Chazmatazz Formalwear.
But the doors of the Toms River business have been closed for nearly two months due to state mandates in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Owner Stephen Szczypinski couldn't imagine the health threat creeping into prom season. Then on May 4, Gov. Phil Murphy announced in-person learning would not occur for the rest of the academic year, essentially putting the nail in the coffin for gatherings like graduations and school dances unless schools have the opportunity to hold events during the summer.
"I brought in a bunch of new merchandise, which is just sitting," Szczypinski said. "We came out of our slowest season of the year and then all of a sudden it was boom, slam on the brakes."
The shop already had up to 50 tuxedo rentals ready to go, Szczypinski said. Most resulted in refunds.
Between proms and the start of wedding season, May and June provide a big piece of the revenue pie for Ross Limo. Martin Ross said the Neptune-based business can run 50 to 100 limos during a typical prom season, and dozens of couples have already moved their weddings to 2021.
"I don't know when this is going to end," Ross said. "I would say we have a couple months in the bank to kind of get by. Our car payments are still due, our insurance is still due, and they're big numbers."
Quick rides to the airport are hardly in play, Ross added. The business would normally take five to 20 airport trips per day. Five or so rides were booked over the past month and a half, he said.
With in-person shopping prohibited at many businesses throughout New Jersey, shops do have the option to continue delivery and curbside pickup. So this past Mother's Day was the busiest yet for Flower Bar in Brick.
But event-related business has practically disappeared for the shop that sits on the same street as Brick Township High School. Prom season is typically "crazy," and the shop would normally service local schools for their graduation ceremonies, according to owner Michelle Jones.
"It's a big part of my business because, unfortunately, once June comes and goes, the summer for a florist — it's very quiet," Jones said. "The summer months can be a killer for us, especially if we don't have the nice income that we normally have from proms and graduation."