When an elderly driver accidentally plowed through the front window of Aerus Electrolux Corp. on Main Street last October, Paul Quagliaroli thought that although the accident left him unscathed it could have spelled doom for his small business.
Thankfully, the local store managed to survive and weather the storm, even managing to spruce up its showroom in the process.
"We're still hanging in there," Quagliaroli told Patch earlier this week about the accident that occurred on Oct. 3, 2011.
Aerus Electrolux is a franchise that sells and services heaters, air purifiers, water purification systems, central vacuums and more owned by Quagliaroli and Bruce Myers. Immediately after the accident last year, Quagliaroli and Myers feared they might be forced to close the business due to the loss of revenue and repair costs associated with it.
But Quagliaroli said that things worked out in the long run, even though the storefront had to board up its window for about six months while they worked with their insurance company to size and replace the window. Quagliaroli said that the accident ultimately cost the business nothing more than its deductible - although there is no way to quantify how much business might have been lost by people who saw the boarded up window and assumed the store was closed, particularly during the busy Manchester Road Race and holiday shopping season at the end of last year - and that many in the downtown area rallied around the business to help it stay afloat during those difficult months.
"Our landlord is a fantastic landlord," Quagliaroli said of the space he rents at 629 Main St. "I cannot say enough about him. He is a fantastic landlord. He really helped us. He is pro small business."
By March of this year, the front window was replaced, new carpets were put down (Quagliaroli said they needed to be replaced because glass from the accident damaged them), and the store's showroom was renovated to be look more spacious and brightly lit. Quagliaroli said the feedback from his customers has been nothing but positive so far.
"They like it. They're glad we're still here," Quagliaroli said. "The customers that come into this store like the convenience of the store and want to deal with small businesses."
Still, Quagliaroli acknowledged that, like many small businesses, his business is far from out of the woods yet because, due to competition from larger retail chains and customers dwindling willingness to support local businesses. Quagliaroli's neighbors, Rock House BBQ & Wings, which opened over the summer, closed in mid-October after only a few months in business, and that location is far from the only empty store front on Main Street in downtown Manchester.
But Quagliaroli says that he hopes that customers continue to support his business and other small businesses in Manchester, because they make up the backbone of a vital community.
"If you deal with small businesses, the dollar stays in town," Quagliaroli said. "If you deal with a small business owner, that's the guy who pumps his gas in town. That's the guy who goes to the local grocery store and spends his money there. That's the guy who when he needs oil calls up another small business owner to try and get a good price."