Merchants report busy, successful Labor Day weekend

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Ocean City, NJ Ocean City, NJ

OCEAN CITY — Despite some clouds and a chilly breeze to kick it off Saturday, local merchants say the three-day Labor Day weekend was one of the best they’ve had in many years.

“We were pretty pleased,” said Skip Tolomeo, president of the Retail Merchants organization.

For a summer marked by long stretches of magnificent weather, the holiday weekend was the cherry on top, he said.

“We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Tolomeo said. “The whole weekend was good. People were everywhere; you saw them on bikes, walking, everyone was here and they were out and busy. To get to work, I almost decided to forget driving and walk up to the beach.”

Tolomeo is the owner of Sea Oats Children’s Shop on Asbury Avenue.

“Surprisingly, Monday was our best day of the weekend, and it was a gorgeous beach day,” he said. “We were busy until almost 6 o’clock. I did not get out until 7 o’clock.”

John Stauffer, president of Johnson’s Popcorn, which has three boardwalk stores, said the weekend was perfect.

“It was a good weekend and it was a good summer,” he said. “We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was a better summer than last year and we’re happy.”

Stauffer said there were many “blessings” to go along with Labor Day weekend. A few clouds, a chilly breeze and a few great beach days gave visitors an opportunity to do a little bit of everything, he said.

“Saturday was a good boardwalk day, but Sunday was actually busier for us,” he said. “Both days were great. Sometimes on a three-day holiday weekend like that, the ‘middle’ day, Sunday, is the best. The family goes to the beach on Saturday and then again on Monday and they do the boardwalk in the middle, but it really was good all three days.”

Stauffer said another blessing is that the summer did not have a big storm associated with it.

In 2011, Hurricane Irene ruined the last week of August and Labor Day weekend for merchants and rental property owners when the island was evacuated as a precaution.

“Overall, things are very good, and we’re looking for more of the same if the weather holds up,” Stauffer said. “We have a lot of great events coming up; we’re looking forward to a great fall.”

At the Tahiti Inn, Pat Gallelli, president of the Ocean City Hospitality Association, said Labor Day weekend provided a “strong, hard finish” to the summer.

“We finished strong, and not just the weekend, the whole last week of August was great,” Gallelli said. “I think a lot of people took that do-or-die attitude – ‘Let’s go to the shore’ – and they came down.

“Usually, the last week starts to taper off, families have other obligations. Did they wake up and say, ‘Oh no, it’s the last week we better get down there?’ I don’t know, but they came in big numbers and we’re really happy about it.”

The Jersey Shore, he said, no longer has easy-to-predict seasons.

“They come whenever they come,” he said. “So this year was lucky, weather-wise it was the best in years and I think that helped a lot. We had a good May and June, a bouncy July and a strong, hard finish. We’ll take it.”

Tolomeo said the summer, in general, has been good.

“Our numbers are up, not gangbusters like the old days, but up and that’s good,” he said. “A really strong Labor Day weekend helped make the summer a good summer.”

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