By John Burton
Rainy, hot weather brings good and bad for Shore businesses
The wet and then hot weather has meant different things to area business owners who were looking forward to summer as a time to return to “normal.”
“It’s been a weird summer,” said Frank Bain, who owns and operates Bain’s Hardware on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.
Super Storm Sandy severely damaged his store. It took Bain months to make the extensive and necessary repairs and restock his lost merchandise.
Sitting across from the community’s public beach, Bain’s stocks seemingly everything necessary for a day at the beach or pool – including sunscreen – along with all the usual items found in a traditional hardware store.
The wet June got his summer off to a rocky start just when he hoped to make up for business lost over the winter.
“Rain is only good to grow corn,” he said.
July, however, has already been looking stronger with kids out of school and the weather heating up.
“I can’t control the weather at all,” he said, adding his strategy is to “say thank you to all my customers” who continue to come through the door.
June was the wettest June in New Jersey since 1895 – when records were first kept – with 9.5 inches of precipitation, said David Robinson, state climatologist, Rutgers University. “Monmouth County was in the weather crosshairs,” for that month, he said. “It was one of the wettest parts of the state in the month of June.”
July is now shaping up to be hot – like June was wet – with the first seven days of the month, never dropping below 70 degrees, Robinson said.
“It’s been so damn hot they don’t come out of the house,” said Bill Geltzeiler, who recently opened Billy G’s Beach Bistro, also on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.
Geltzeiler relocated to Sea Bright after Sandy wrecked his Long Branch location. He has been open for just a few weeks, but noticed the weather affecting his business. Too hot isn’t good, because people won’t come out; if the day starts off rainy, business can be expected to be equally slow, he said.
Geltzeiler believes “85 degrees would be perfect,” with customers arriving before 8 a.m. and then after 3 p.m. – before and after the beach.
“A lot of people think when it’s hot it’s good for business,” said Frances Rooney who sells hot dogs from her cart on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Surf Street. “It’s not.”
“Sometimes it gets too hot for the beach,” she said.
Monday, which topped off at in the high 80s with high humidity, was Rooney’s first day at her post this year. “I couldn’t stand it,” she said. She even considered calling it a day earlier than her usual 4 p.m.
As she looked out around Sea Bright from her vantage point, Rooney said she has noticed that the beach has begun to fill on hot days. She added, “I have to say the beach clubs are packed,” strong indicators from someone who has been in business since the 1960s.
Brian George, whose Northshore men’s and women’s clothing store reopened in March on the eastern side of Ocean Avenue, said unlike malls, “weather does play a role,” with his shoppers. Conditions have to be good – not too extreme – to attract customers.
He also has observed a difference between how men and women shop. “In men’s wear, it’s a knee-jerk reaction,” with men buying, by and large, when they realize they need something like swim trunks when it gets hot. “For women, shopping is a sport,” and will do it pretty regularly, said George whoseshop recently added women’s wear to its inventory.
“Hot’s not good,” for Giglio’s Bait and Tackle, next to Northshore, owner Tom Giglio said.
“Lightning storms are real bad and we’ve been seeing them,” he said. “Hurricanes are worse.”
Milder temps, between 75-80 degrees with a soft northwest breeze, is what “brings out all kinds of fishermen,” he said.
“I guess it’s the same for everyone in this area,” Giglio said. “Bad weather, bad sales.”
The weather hasn’t been the most conducive for his business but it’s still been fairly steady and Giglio is hoping for a strong enough summer to hold him over until his busy season in the fall begins. “That’s our best time of the year, but it’s the summer that pays for the fall,” he said.
The recent hot weather has Giorgio Migliaccio hoping it continues and helps to put Highlands businesses back on track after the storm.
Migliaccio owns and operates Francesco’s Restaurant, a small pizza and sub shop on Bay Avenue. He said for his business, “if it gets very hot and dry people don’t cook,” and may look to have a pizza delivered. Rain can be a plus to his business, too. If drops start falling at about dinnertime, preventing people from barbecuing, he can get calls, he said.
“This past week is suppose to be the busiest week,” with the July 4 holiday and long weekend for many. “It was just OK,” he said with business overall still down 30 to 40 percent over last year.
“We survive,” he said. “We have one good day and then the next not so good.”
The wet June has worked out, in some regard, for Windansea on Shrewsbury Avenue in Highlands, said owner Dan Shields.
The rainy days last month seemed to occur during the earlier part of the week, with weekends clearing up enough to bring people out – and they are coming out, Shields said.
“In general, people are really happy to be out of that rotten winter,” he said and they are showing up to see and hear the live bands and sit outside.
“It’s definitely a strong season for us,” and one he hopes continues, Shields said.
“The overall impression of the summer is the grass is still green and the air-conditioners have been humming,” Robinson said.
As for what we could see, the state climatologist believes, the weather will be persistently humid and warm but not necessarily oppressively hot, at least for the next six weeks or so.
“We certainly have no drought threat in the short term,” Robinson said.