News 2 I-Team: North Charleston business owners disappear after Hurricane Matthew

Hodges Optical is located along Northwoods Boulevard in North Charleston.

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — Several people emailed, and one man even stopped by our station, asking the News 2 I-Team for help.

Those people paid for eyeglasses from a North Charleston business, but the owners have boarded up the shop and disconnected their phone lines.

Marcia Reinhardt ordered a pair of glasses from Hodges Optical in the past.

She works part time as a media specialist, so she needs her glasses for computer work and reading.

She ordered a new pair of stronger lenses from Hodges in July of 2016. She says she paid more than $100 in a deposit.

She called the store several times.

“They said, ‘We have your lenses, but we’re waiting on another piece, so it’s going to be another week,” said Reinhardt.

Several weeks later, still no words from Hodges Optical.

Then, Hurricane Matthew hit.

A neighboring store’s staff member describes what the strip mall, where Hodges Optical is located, experienced.

“We had about 14, 15 inches of standing water,” said Kellan Kirby.

“They tore out drywall, and took out all the carpeting and flooring. It took us about 2 weeks to get up and running,” he said.

6 months after the hurricane, Hodges Optical still is not up and running.

Reinhardt says she called several times after Hurricane Matthew.

“There was no one to answer the phone, and it said that they were closed for renovations,” said Reinhardt.

We tried calling, and the number was disconnected.

“Then, I went by the office, and there were signs that they were closed due to Hurricane Matthew,” said Reinhardt.

A similar sign is still posted on the storefront near Northwoods Mall.

We asked Kirby if anyone has come into his store asking about Hodges Optical.

“Oh, so many people. They pull up, see the door’s closed, see the curtain veiled in the window, and obviously it’s not open for business. So, they come in and ask what’s going on, and when they’re reopening, stuff like that. But, their guess is as best as ours,” said Kirby.

We spoke with legal experts who say anyone who feels they are owed money can take a case to small claims court.

We also spoke with Optical Impressions, which has 4 locations around the lowcountry. The store’s owner says he would be willing to work with any prior customers of Hodges Optical.

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