Six months after Hurricane Michael flattened and flooded Panama City, Fla., and much of the surrounding Panhandle, residents are still taking small steps to some semblance of normalcy.
Another step came this month with the opening of a temporary Badcock Home Furniture & More store.
The store’s opening was celebrated earlier this month and guests were given $50 Badcock merchandise cards. Crowds of local residents showed up before the store opened to replace furniture and appliances lost in the Category 4 storm.
Sonja Rhinehardt has been the dealer-owner of two Badcock stores in the Panama City area for 20 years. After Michael struck the Panhandle on Oct. 10, Rhinehardt returned to her stores and found neither was operational. Both would have to be leveled.
“It was super scary at first,” said Rhinehart. “There were times I felt defeated, but I never gave up. We had a great staff that wouldn’t let me give up.”
Within days, the Badcock Retail Operations team began helping Rhinehardt formulate a plan to get a temporary location up and running while she rebuilt the store. The team got the first temporary location up and running within three weeks after the storm.
That temporary location consisted of storage sheds set up in the parking lot of one of Rinehardt’s old stores.
Rhinehardt ran her business out of those sheds for more than five months until a space was secured for the temporary store on West 23rd Street in Panama City.
CEO and President Rob Burnette said Rhinehardt’s determination to stay open and serve her community is admirable. “I’m inspired by dealers like Sonja and by our operations staff who have such a commitment to our customers, our community and our brand,” said Burnette, who was named the HFA’s Retailer of the Year in 2018. “We hope that our actions help inspire healing and rapid rebuilding in Panama City and the adjacent towns.”