Some Businesses Boom After Aftershocks

Earthquake aftershocks may not be good for anyone's nerves, but according to some San Fernando Valley merchants, they're certainly good for business.

Too good, maybe.

Seismologists say that the recent bumps in the night are nothing to worry about. Try telling that to businesses swamped with new customers since the Jan. 17 quake.

"Our business is affected dramatically," said Billy Carmen, whose Studio City-based company sells equipment to protect home and office furnishings. "Every time there's an aftershock it's like a commercial for us."

Carmen said that the 300 devices Quake Secure manufactures to strap down everything from artwork to armoires have been in high demand for weeks--a demand that is renewed with each new temblor.

For other businesses, however, the continuing quakes are beginning to represent more bane than boon.

"We're still getting calls from the aftershocks," said Linda Kay at Rattay's Crystal Repair. "It won't slow down."

She noted that the Encino shop is filled with items waiting to be fixed--clocks, crystal and knickknacks--so many things that the business can barely keep up.

"We've had to go from walk-in customers to appointments," Kay said.

According seismologists, while the number of daily aftershocks has dropped substantially in the four months since the 6.8-magnitude Northridge quake, Valley residents should expect them to continue.

"This is perfectly normal," said seismologist Thomas Heaton at the U.S. Geological Survey's Pasadena field office Thursday. "The aftershocks will persist for years but will steadily decline and you'll see some bursts of increased activity in the decline."

Still, despite the business boom brought on by the occasional shaker, others have simply accepted them as part of the post-quake routine.

"Everybody here is getting pretty used to 'em," said Cal State Northridge spokeswoman Kaine Thompson after Wednesday night's 3.6-magnitude temblor.

Tracking the Aftershocks

This graph shows the decline in the number of daily aftershocks from the Jan. 17 earthquake. There have been more than 8,000 aftershocks, most of them too small to feel. But there still are about two aftershocks over magnitude 3.0 each week, and scientists believe there is a 56% chance of a magnitude 5 aftershock sometime in the next year. Note: Data is incomplete for one day in late January Source: Lucile M. Jones, U.S. Geological Survey

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