Success Stories

Seaside Lumber Company

Seaside Heights

Every day last summer and fall, 20 or 30 contractors from across New Jersey walked past a sign that reads, “Our 65th Year of Building the Jersey Shore,” and into the doors of Seaside Lumber Company.

The Shore’s restoration was underway, and the small family-owned store—located a block from the two-lane bridge that crosses Barnegat Bay into Seaside Heights—could barely keep up with demand.

“A lot of people wanted to support us as a local business,” says Louisa Kostiha as she stands in front of the store counter; her brother and co-owner Joe leans on it from the other side.  Customer loyalty, she says, is how Seaside Lumber survived Hurricane Sandy—how she and Joe sustained the business their father founded not long after World War II.

“You only hear about the boardwalk and the oceanfront,” says Louisa. “The worst flooding came from the bay.” When Louisa and Joe returned to the store after the storm, they found four feet of water in every building, equipment that was irreparable, and over $200,000 in lost inventory. 

The forklift was the most crucial loss:  the store needed it not only to load orders of lumber for their loyal customers, but also to clear debris that remained strewn across the lot.  With the help of a $30,000 REBUILD New Jersey loan from NJCC, the Kostihas were able to buy a used forklift and van. “NJCC was the first one to respond to our needs,” says Kostiha, “and to this point, the only ones.”

Other than a collage of photos on the inside of the front door, the store shows no signs of its damages.  In the weeks after the storm, family, friends, and other volunteers cleared the floors and removed the trash, helping it to reopen as soon as possible.  “It really was a community effort,” says Joe.