Hurricane Irma is a couple of days from making landfall in South Florida, but Gulf Coast Pet Supplies isn’t taking any chances.
The pet supplies retailer, based in Sarasota, Fla., and No. 906 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000, has taken its online store offline due to the pending storm. It also has closed its one physical store. The message on its site says offices are closed and it expects to reopen Sept. 12.
An email to Gulf Coast Pet Supplies’ customer service line on Thursday afternoon resulted in an auto response stating that its customer support team is unavailable as of 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursday and that offices “will be closed for the safety of our customers and employees in preparation for Hurricane Irma.”
The Weather Channel predicts that the center of Hurricane Irma will hit Miami on Sunday afternoon, packing winds of 130 mph. As of Thursday afternoon the storm is a Category 5 hurricane packing sustained winds of about 175 mph. It is with that in mind that some online retailers have suspended operations and notified customers that business will be disrupted.
Gulf Coast Pet Supplies also has suspended its marketplace sales via Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., CEO Tricia Bolds said in an email. “We are unsure if trucks will be running, if electricity will be available,” she writes. “Safety for our customers, employees and our pets is always the utmost importance. We can replace things, we can’t replace life.”
Preparations for Irma began on Labor Day and the impact on sales depends on how long the store is offline, Bolds says. “We pushed off all of our deliveries this week due to the storm. We made the decision on Labor Day not to accept any new stock to our warehouse.”
Gulf Coast Pet Supplies isn’t alone.
LuxeDH, a Davie, Fla.-based online retailer of new and used luxury designer handbags, said on its website that it has suspended fulfillment operations due to Hurricane Irma. The Miami-area retailer tells shoppers there may be a delay in responding to customer inquiries or processing orders, and it apologizes for any inconvenience.
LuxeDH CEO Roberto Szerer says the decision to suspend operations was made Wednesday night when it became apparent that Irma posed an imminent threat to South Florida. “The site is taking orders,” he says. “People from their homes or mobile devices, they can continue working if they are available. We won’t ship [orders] until the storm passes.”
The retailer, which has more than 20 employees, has moved its computers on top of tables and used plastic to guard against potential water damage. LuxeDH.com and its customer files are housed in the cloud and everything is backed up, says Szerer, who has been through previous hurricanes in South Florida. If he’s learned anything, he says, it’s to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
“My hope is that Monday morning, we’re working,” Szerer says. “We have to wait to see what is the path of the hurricane, what is the level of damage and then we have to improvise to see what we do.”
Miami-based Gotham Cigars (No. 908) also warns of delays. “Due to Hurricane Irma, our shipments will be delayed. We apologize for any inconvenience in advance,” it states on its home page.
However, not all retailers that are in Irma’s path are following suit just yet. Online jeweler Palm Beach Jewelry (No. 582) has a notice on its website informing shoppers that while it is in the path of the storm, “all is well” and the retailer is not experiencing any shipping delays nor does it have any immediate plans to suspend operations.Favorite