By MADDY VITALE
Brian Heritage, owner of the iconic shop Heritage Surf & Sport, will lead the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization when he is officially nominated as president on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Heritage will replace prominent developer and business owner Christopher Glancey, who resigned after 10 years at the helm to devote more time to his work and let someone else step in at the Chamber.
“I may be acting as the president, but we are all in this together,” Heritage said in an interview Sunday. “Everyone will have to play a role. Chris did a great job, and he did it for a long time.”
He has plans to grow the Chamber. There are about 145 businesses in town with about 45 belonging to the Chamber. Heritage said he also wants more Chamber representatives from each area of the business district to provide a fairer representation of the shops.
Heritage, whose late father, Dan, opened the surf shop in Sea Isle in 1962, said he wants to show the established business owners and newcomers why it is so vital to join the Chamber and all of the benefits it could bring.
“We should help out new businesses more and the focus should be on brick-and-mortar businesses here. The Chamber should be there to walk you by hand if you need it while you are getting your feet in the door and starting a business in town,” Heritage explained.
Heritage said businesses are not seeing repeat day-trippers that they should be seeing in the busy summer season.
“We need to show people why they need to come back to Sea Isle and see all of the things we have to offer,” he added.
He said he is looking forward to reaching out, along with other Chamber members, and letting new businesses know why the Chamber is key to their businesses. He also wants to help longstanding businesses with social media platforms and other ways they could let customers know what they have to offer.
“We need to recognize there are a lot of older families here who have been the backbone of the community, and we need to lean on their expertise because they have been doing it for so long,” Heritage said. “We just need to make it better. Maybe we could help some of the older businesses with their reach.”
He said, for example, the Chamber could help with marketing the businesses.
“We have old businesses here and industries like what my parents started. You can’t buy some things online. You have to experience it in person,” Heritage said.
Heritage also said new businesses and business owners are key to fresh new ideas, but looking to the older, established businesses is crucial.
“We have a lot of new people who took advantage of great buys in Sea Isle, but we need to recognize the backbone of the community,” Heritage said. “We have to recognize the longevity of their stores and take a cue on how they have been successful.”
Heritage is planning to collaborate with the city to promote tourism, but at the same time he doesn’t want the Chamber to duplicate special events already done by Sea Isle.
“We need to work closely with the city so that we don’t overlap on things they are doing with the tourism,” he noted. “We need to focus in on visitors 100 miles out and in tandem with tourism we should cover everything.”
He gave a sneak peek at a new marketing tool for the 2020 summer season.
“The guys that produce our videos for our website will do three commercials for the Chamber,” Heritage explained. “We have people coming with some fresh, new ideas. I want to hear everyone’s ideas. We are in this together.”