It turns out the B&B Department Stores in Ocean City and Sea Girt are not closing after all.

B&B South announced that it was going to close its "physical store operations" in those two locations while an LBI location was not going to reopen. The post made it clear they are not affiliated with B&B North, a separate company that operates stores in Lavallette and Seaside Park with the same name.

B&B North Vice President Jeffrey Davidson told New Jersey 101.5 that his company is taking over the B&B South locations, which will briefly close for a renovation and reopen in May.

Things have changed in the Ocean City store in the 16 years since he last ran it the renovations will not just be physical, according to Davidson.

"We are going to open the back doors, we're going to change the fitting rooms around, we're going to move the registers around, we're going to open the floor up a lot more," Davidson said. "We're going to reinstitute Senior Day on Tuesday which had been stopped in Ocean City. We're a lot softer company when it comes to return policies and general customer service."

Davidson said the Ocean City and Sea Girt stores will also be open all day and close at 9 or 10 p.m.

Plane in B&B Department Store's Seaside Park store
Plane in B&B Department Store's Seaside Park store (Jeffrey Davidson)
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Unique decor will not change

One thing that will not change is two VW Beetles, a Karmann Ghia, an Ocean City lifeguard boat and an old Cessna plane that hang from the ceiling of the Ocean City store.

"My father and Phil Bertole put the Volkswagen Beetles and the plane up in the ceiling. There's a plane in my Seaside (Park) store and a plane in Beach Haven as well. Those are my father's. She's not allowed to take them," Davidson said. "We love those things."

'Disagreement' leads to a split

Davidson said that Helen Bertole runs the two B&B South stores.

"We were one company owned by Phil Bertoli and Dave Davidson in 2006 when myself, Jeffrey Davidson, and Phil Bertoli's daughter Laura were going to take over the company. We had disagreements so we decided to split the company in 2006. I took the northern stores in Seaside (Park) and the two Lavallettes and Laura Bertoli took the southern stores, the two on LBI and the one in Ocean City," Davidson said.

Davidson said that when Phil Bertoli died in 2010 he left everything to wife Helen Bertoli. But there was one business agreement that affected the operations of the store.

"My dad had an agreement with Phil that whoever died first could buy all the properties outright. Phil and my dad were the landlords and after Phil's death, my dad became the landlord solely. Helen Bertole had three more options that she could go to 2026 with the leases. In October she told us she was going to go five years longer and then in January she told us she's reneging on the lease and she's closing down."

Several attempts to call the Ocean City store were met by busy signals on Monday morning.

Shark in B&B Department Store's Seaside Park store
Shark in B&B Department Store's Seaside Park store (Jeffrey Davidson)
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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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