After Sandy and the fire, Seaside Heights still struggles
Thanks to good weather and successful ad campaigns, beach badge sales increased in several towns including Sea Bright, Belmar and Ocean City this summer. In addition, some business owners said profits were up 20 to 30 percent this summer compared with last year's, when the shore was still in the early stages of recovering from the devastating October 2012 storm.
But businesses along Seaside Height's boardwalk continue to struggle in the aftermath of Sandy and the boardwalk fire that engulfed Seaside Heights and Seaside Park on Sept. 12, 2013.
"There is much decline, but it's much better. The people are more willing to come out and enjoy themselves. I still think there is a lot of work to be done," said Blake D'Uva, manager at Adrenaline Clothing.
D'Uva thinks it could be four to five years before they see crowds and profits like they did before Sandy hit.
The muted crowds are also felt by Simon Zarro, owner of Beach Paradise clothing shop. He said being near the popular EJ's bar and Casino Pier hasn't helped much, especially when there are less people on the boardwalk.
"We have good weekends, but during the week we struggle," Zarro said.
While there are efforts to create a more family-friendly atmosphere on the boardwalk, and expand the amount of activities for families and beach goers, Zarro doesn't think officials have done enough. He said he has not seen any marketing or promotion from the borough pushing family-friendly activities.
"They didn't keep up advertising and bring action and stuff to do at the beach. They need to bring more bands, more volleyball - bring something every week."
Zarro feels the surge in tourism from MTV's "Jersey Shore" was completely eliminated after Sandy, and there has been no effort to recover it.