The Buy in Ocean County initiative is a yearly tradition for residents, however after Hurricane Sandy it packs an additional significance.

The initiative, spearheaded by Ocean County Freeholder Joseph Vicari, encourages residents to do their shopping in their own community rather than buy from out-of-state or out-of-country retailers. In the wake of Sandy, Vicari sees a renewed importance in keeping the money within your community and keeping the local economy strong.

He notes the County has a large assortment of small businesses owned by independent owners, and they are the ones hit hardest by the storm. The Freeholder notes by continuing to spend money with them, they can make a significant impact on their own community.

Downtown Toms River (YouTube)

“A lot of local businesses have been in business for ten, fifteen, twenty years and if they don’t get this shot in the arm over the next several weeks they won’t be here any longer, and these are our friends and neighbors.”

 

 

The locally owned restaurant industry was also severely impacted by the storm says Vicari.

“Use the restaurants, there’s no reason to go on the computer and go to a different county.”

He notes if people are continuing to help with relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy, one of the best things they can do is simply buy a gift card for a meal from their local mom and pop eatery.

“Give someone a mean whether it be for Thanksgiving, of the Holidays, or Christmas.”

The County took in nearly four billion in tourism dollars in 2011, the third highest in the state. Vicari hopes they can return to those numbers as soon as possible.

“My goal is to put as much energy into as possible to hit the same goal last year. I don’t think we can do it, but we’re going to do the best we can. We are going to be optimistic, we’re not going to give people false hope.”