Hurricane Boosts Sales at Vittles
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 02:11
Despite early closures caused by Hurricane Sandy, sales at Students of Georgetown, Inc. services were up significantly this week.
According to Chief Financial Officer Vidur Khatri (MSB ’14), sales at Vital Vittles were 50 to 60 percent above the norm on Sunday as students hurried to purchase extra food before the storm.
“The big day for us was Sunday,” he said, adding that the Leavey Center grocery made about $11,000 more than usual. “It was a pretty good week for us, sales wise.”
Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Wolfram (MSB ’13) agreed.
“We had a huge influx of customers” she told The Hoya on Monday. “All of a sudden, everyone wanted to get stuff.”
Wolfram added that the average cost of purchases were around $20, nearly tripling the $7 average typically seen at the Leavey Center grocery.
According to Wolfram, the rush to stock up on food helped offset losses caused by The Corp’s shortened operating hours during the hurricane.
Though Corp services attempted to stay open for as long as possible, all storefronts closed by 3:30 p.m. Monday.
“We opened 10 a.m. on Monday under the impression that we were going to stay open for as long we could,” Wolfram said. “My primary priority was employee safety; we have short shifts, so I didn’t want anyone to be walking around in the storm, especially with flying debris.”
Initially, Corp management decided to close before sundown, but after the university announced that the storm was expected to hit by 4 p.m. Monday, services ended operation earlier to ensure that employees would get home in time.
“We wanted to make sure every single employee was home and safe by 4 p.m.,” Khatri said.
Midnight Mug was not open Monday because the university closed Lauinger Library, where the coffee shop is located. In addition, Midnight Mug closed early Tuesday night due to miscommunication between Corp management and the university.
“We were told that Lau was going to close at midnight by the university, and it didn’t, so we ended up closing early,” Wolfram said. “But we didn’t want to. We always try to stay open as much as possible.”
Khatri agreed, saying that the primary goal of the Corp is to provide for the community.
“It would be easy for us to cop out, take the easy way out and shelter like everyone else is doing,” Khatri said. “But students are going to need food, so we tried to stay open as much as was safely possible.”
According to Wolfram, the Corp did not lose any money from closing its storefronts.
“We would have made no sales during the time we were closed,” Wolfram said. “Students simply wouldn’t have come.”
Khatri added that it was difficult to quantify the financial impact of the storm because most Corp employees are paid hourly wages and most of the products it sells are non-perishables. The perishables that were unsold as of Monday afternoon, such as bagels and pastries, were donated to common rooms across campus, Wolfram said.
Aside from the early closures, Wolfram added that delivery delays caused by the storm also put a dent in the company’s profits.
“[Our stocks] were already pretty bare on Sunday, but after the Monday morning sales rush, we had no cereal or chips,” she said. “Unfortunately, none of our vendors could deliver anything to replenish our stocks. If we had full stock, we probably would have made even more sales.”