Shop Local, Buy Local

Whether you’re looking for that special gift for mom or that hard to buy for aunt, shopping is better and easier when you buy locally.

“It’s a simple message that Ocean County promotes throughout the year and especially around the holidays,” said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to business development. “When you buy local you are helping to support our ‘mom and pop’ establishments.

“These are stores located in our downtowns and throughout the County that offer a host of items, many unique, along with great customer service.  I encourage Ocean County citizens to bolster local businesses during the year’s busiest shopping time by buying local

“No matter what is on your wish list this year, the place to find that holiday treasure is right here in Ocean County,” Vicari said. “From the latest electronics to unique crafts and household items, our local shops offer everything a holiday shopper could ever want.”

While malls, such as the Ocean County Mall, Toms River and the Jackson Outlets, Jackson Township, remain premier destinations for holiday shoppers, Vicari said the county’s many local downtowns offer unique shops and boutiques.

“From Point Pleasant Beach to Tuckerton, across the county, downtowns offer some of the best choices for holiday shopping,” Vicari said. “Many of these stores are owned by long-time residents that continue to be a staple in our communities. Make a day out of it – shop, have lunch and just enjoy the area. There is plenty to see and do in all of our municipalities. The towns are all festively decorated for the holidays. Shopping is fun and easy when you shop locally.”

Consumer Protection

Buying locally comes with many benefits, added Freeholder Director John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety.

“I want to commend Freeholder Vicari for his continuing effort to help protect local businesses and to protect consumers,” Kelly said. “This program really highlights many great attributes that Ocean County has to offer.”

Buying in Ocean County also offers additional protection for consumers.

Each year the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs receives complaints about orders not filled or other concerns residents have when dealing with out-of-state mail order companies.

“We see the same problems year after year,” said Vicari, who is chairman of the Consumer Affairs Department. “Merchandise is not received in time for the holidays, there are problems with back orders and some received items barely resembling their catalog photos and descriptions.”

To make matters worse, it is often difficult to pursue a consumer affairs case against an out-of-state company that does not fall under the jurisdiction of New Jersey’s consumer fraud laws.

“When you buy local, you are protected against fraud,” Vicari said. “Our county and state agencies have more authority when dealing with a local business complaint.”

It’s also easier to return an item purchased locally.

“You can drive down the street and visit the store rather than pack and ship a package across the country,” he said.

If you’re having trouble finding the perfect gift, Vicari suggested purchasing a gift card from a small business in Ocean County.

“What better present to give than a gift card for a great meal at one of our many local restaurants,” he said. “Or how about a gift certificate for a haircut or a home cleaning service? Our Ocean County small businesses truly offer something for everyone.”

If you need consumer help, the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs is located at 1027 Hooper Ave., Building 2, Toms River or can be reached by calling 732-929-2105. A Consumer Affairs representative also is at the County Connection in the Ocean County Mall the third Friday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m.

“It’s our goal to promote our local businesses and to make certain the consumer is protected,” Vicari said. “The ‘Buy in Ocean County’ campaign comes with a host of benefits and helps to make the holiday season bright for our retailers and our residents.”