To Paul Quagliaroli, there’s two ways to look at the of his Main Street business Monday morning.
The first is that he was lucky to be alive after the vehicle, driven by an elderly woman who mistook the gas pedal for the brake, came less than 10 feet from hitting him, sending glass and debris shattering everywhere, including into the counter behind which Quagliaroli was sitting at the time (he speculated the counter may have been what saved him).
“I saw the car coming at the window but I couldn’t process what it was,” he told Patch Tuesday afternoon. “I heard the smash and the glass crack and then I just dove to the ground.”
The second way to look at Monday’s accident, Quagliaroli said, is as an unwelcome and potentially disastrous disruption to his small, independently owned vacuum cleaner service business at a time when the business can least afford it.
“This is going to interrupt my business, no question about it,” Quagliaroli said Tuesday, even though his Aerus Electrolux store remained open and had remained open for most of the previous day. “Right now I’ve got an ad on the radio and I’ve got an ad in the local paper, but the place looks like a mess. This is a big hardship – this is going to be a huge hardship.”
Although insurance is likely to cover the cost of the repairs, Quagliaroli noted that he and his business partner, Bruce Meyers, will still likely have to shell out for the cost of the deductible, while there’s no way to tell how many potential customers they might lose who drive by, see the boarded over window and assume the store is closed. And then there’s the whole issue of perception, Quagliaroli noted. He said the business was already going through lean times as of late due to competition from larger retail chains near the and customers dwindling willingness to support local businesses in the downtown area.
“None of us are driving Maseratis,” he said. “We’re just hanging in there; we’re just barely hanging in there.”
Although both Quagliaroli and Myers said the support they received immediately after the accident from the surrounding local businesses was “fantastic” – “everyone around came to help right away,” Quagliaroli said – they also noted they would be willing to accept any additional support people might be willing to provide get the business back on its feet, from monetary or in-kind donations to simply an influx of concerned customers.
“We’re hanging by a thread,” Quagliaroli said. “We’re not the ESPNs or the Cignas of this world.”
The Manchester Police Department said Tuesday that the elderly woman had been cited for the accident and was in the process of being stripped of her license. If she wanted to drive again, police said, she would have to retake a DMV road test.