By MADDY VITALE
People who love to shop had a little taste of what is to come in Ocean City in the way of discounts and deals this weekend with downtown and Boardwalk merchant sales, just ahead of the huge Fall Block Party on Oct. 12.
Merchants offered discounts throughout the weekend on merchandise displayed outside their stores between Sixth Street and 14th Street along Asbury Avenue and the Boardwalk.
Sisters Debbie Flagg, of Cinnaminson, N.J., Bonnie Tomaszewski and Barbara Broomall, both of West Chester County, Pa., spend a week together at Flagg’s Ocean City vacation home.
“We always come down for two weeks at this time of year,” Flagg said of her family. “It’s not as crowded and the weather is still nice.”
On Sunday afternoon, Flagg and her sisters were doing a lot of shopping along Asbury Avenue, where a smattering of tables outside of storefronts showcased some deals.
The day before, the sisters spent the day on the Boardwalk, where they purchased some merchandise at discounted prices.
With shopping bags in hand, they each talked about their buys, which consisted of clothing, dog treats and toys, scarves and some Christmas gifts.
The weekend of Boardwalk and downtown merchant sales is a prelude to the Fall Block Party shopping extravaganza from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. Ocean City expects around 50,000 visitors for the Fall Block Party, which features over 400 crafters, food vendors, musicians and entertainers who take over Asbury Avenue from Fifth Street to 14th Street.
President of the Boardwalk Merchants Association Wes Kazmarck, owner of the Surf Mall on the Boardwalk, said he uses the weekend to gauge what merchandise is still selling.
When the following week rolls around, it is game on with what often turns into a spectacular weekend for merchants, he noted.
“The Fall Block Party is the last big shot,” he said of business for the season. “It is always a big, strong weekend.”
Joanne Robertson and her husband Dave, of Bernardsville, N.J., who were visiting friends in Ocean City for the weekend, said they were looking for a variety of items at the downtown merchant sales.
“We went into a consignment shop and got some good deals,” Joanne Robertson said with a smile.
Then she looked through lounge wear on a merchant table.
“It’s 40 percent off,” she said of the fleece pants and shirt. “I’m going to buy these for my daughters.”
The couple also had another purchase in mind, and it wasn’t a typical buy at an event featuring merchant tables.
“We might go back to the consignment shop and buy a sofa,” she said.
While there were shoppers browsing at the downtown stores, others were enjoying the mild weather on the Boardwalk.
Jean Ashenfelder, of Collegeville, Pa., and her son, Tyler, 6, were visiting family in Ocean City for the weekend.
They made a few stops along the Boardwalk. Tyler proudly displayed his new stuffed animal, a spider named “Legs.”
Something caught his eye at Jilly’s T-Shirt Factory, where beach chairs, sand buckets and shovels, and other novelties were discounted and displayed outside the shop.
“We’ve been shopping a little today,” Ashenfelder said. “There are some good sales. Now we are looking for shells for Tyler’s hermit crabs.”