By Donald Wittkowski
The 10th month of the year is not exactly a perfect 10 on the sales charts for Sea Isle City’s businesses.
October is too late for back-to-school sales and too early for the Christmas shopping season. It also represents the time of year when the throngs of summer tourists are long gone, so things can get pretty quiet in the downtown business district.
Hoping to reinvigorate the retail scene during the off-season, the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization is bringing back a discount shopping program designed to attract visitors to town in, you guessed it, October.
“People will use them when they come back in October and spend some money,” Christopher Glancey, the Chamber of Commerce president, said during the organization’s monthly board meeting Tuesday.
Altogether, 7,500 shopping cards have been printed and are now being handed out by businesses to their customers. Shoppers will be able to use the cards for a one-time discount on their entire purchase between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31 at participating businesses.
The discount program is being promoted on the Chamber’s website at www.seaislechamber.com and through social media.
Two local shops, Heritage Surf and Sport and Groovy Girlz, will offer 25 percent discounts to cardholders, while 20 other participating businesses and restaurants will give 15 percent off.
“You get the word out there and now you make Sea Isle a place to come back to in October. It will help to commercialize the entire town,” said Brian Heritage, owner of Heritage Surf and Sport on 3700 Landis Ave.
Heritage conceived of the idea of having the Chamber of Commerce start a discount shopping program that was modeled after something he was already doing in his store. Heritage, who has his own 25 percent discount shopping card, persuaded the Chamber to try a similar program citywide for the first time last year. Now, the discount cards are being brought back for the second year.
“The month of October is the worst time of year,’’ Heritage said of Sea Isle’s shopping season. “What we need to do is to increase foot traffic.”
Heritage noticed that he was able to boost his own customer traffic in October by offering a discount card.
“We saw in our own numbers that it worked,” he said. “If it worked for us, why wouldn’t it work if we had it for our Chamber?”
Colleen Buch, owner of Groovy Girlz at 3814 Landis Ave., said the discount card helped to drive business to her shop last year and she expects the same thing this October. She noted that some customers at her boutique have already been asking her about the card.
“One customer said she used the card last year and was already planning to do some early Christmas shopping this October,” Buch said.
Joanna Heston, a marketing representative for Seven Mile Publishing, the Chamber of Commerce’s marketing consultant, said the shopping discounts will complement Sea Isle’s special events in October. They include the Octoberfest celebration on Oct. 21 in Excursion Park and the Around the World Social, a dining and wine tasting gala on Oct. 13 at Braca Café and Henri’s Bar.