Everyone paused after the tremor rumbled through the floors and walls of the HomeWorld Business offices on Long Island.
As word spread of the rare yet relatively harmless earthquake that rattled the East Coast, nerves subsided and everyone went back to work.
It made one wonder what was going through the minds of people in the swaying towers of New York City or the shuddering landmarks of Washington D.C. as the quake punctuated an otherwise sunny and calm mid-summer day. It was less than a month before the 10th anniversary of another day that started bright and still yet ended under the rubble of an unfathomable crash of terror whose shock waves will never fully subside.
Everyone paused. Then they went back to work.
Has it been 10 years? In a Twitter-speed world that now tracks progress virtually in milliseconds, 10 years seems like a virtual lifetime ago.
Indeed, the world of housewares retailing has seen more profound change during the past decade than during the half-century that preceded it. Much of it has been taxing. Consider all the once-staunch storefronts and other businesses that have been wiped from the retail landscape during the past 10 years— victims of mass consolidation; upstart competitors; their own missteps; a deep recession; all of the above.
The worst tragedy to strike American turf left an intolerable swath of victims near and far that won’t be forgotten. Yet, in its aftermath, after everyone paused to grieve and to introspect, they went back to work with dogged purpose.
Look no further than Ground Zero and the surrounding Lower Manhattan business and residential community to appreciate the equal parts earnestness, courage and tenacity that can define people at their murkiest moments. A decade later, the area is rising with renewed self-assurance.
Reflect & Reassess
It is telling that two independent retailers with some of the deepest roots in that community— Century 21 Department Store and J&R Music and Computer World— remain vital shopping cogs there 10 years later while a number of national retailers that couldn’t hack it for whatever reason are no longer around to enjoy the district’s renewal.
The Century 21 flagship store at the foot of the World Trade Center was all but buried, only to reopen within a year. Today, a decade removed from becoming trapped in the epicenter of chaos, the store is the lively hub of a resilient community and an expanding company.
Tragedy and misfortune can be among the strongest catalysts for causing people to pause. To reflect and reassess before moving forward again.
But very often, from devastation comes determination. From a cloud comes clarity.
The unpredictable tremors in life and business that rumble under our feet come from all directions and in all magnitudes. We deal with them in our own ways.
It helps to pause from time to time— and not just for important anniversaries like the one on Sunday, September 11. Then it helps to get back to work.