Free Beach Thursdays in Margate This Summer

No colleagues. No customers.

That’s how quiet it was Tuesday morning at Sassy of Margate, where manager Vicki Small was the only person in the shoes and accessories shop on Ventnor Avenue.

“I’m by myself today. Where there would usually be two or three of us,” Small said. “We are seeing the effects of the economy here.”

She said business is off 40 percent. The winter season has been brutal for businesses here and in other Jersey Shore communities.

To help lure more people this summer, Margate is making its beaches free once every week. Seasonal beach badges, which cost between $7 and $15, depending on when you buy them, will not be required on Thursdays.

“It’s free in Atlantic City. We don’t want them to go to Atlantic City. We want them to stay in Margate,” said Joseph Tozzi, president of the Margate Business Association.

City leaders hope visitors will then spend money at local businesses.

“We’re looking for people who haven’t been here. We’re looking to expand our market,” Mayor Michael Becker told NBC 10 News.

A weekly beach tag in Margate costs $10. The city does not offer daily beach badges.

The free beach idea is part of the Margate Business Association’s “Thrilling Thursdays” promotion. It kicks off in May and also includes a farmers market, shop discounts, sidewalk sales and extended business hours.

“People are really hurting and we don’t want to lose any more businesses than we had,” Tozzi said.

As an added incentive, local businesses will also be giving away at least 3,500 free passes for the Margate Bridge, which charges a $1.50 toll. The vouchers were donated by the owners of the span.

“They’re really working with us,” Tozzi explained.

Vicki Small, the manager of Sassy, hopes the result will be a badly needed wave of business. After all, she could use the company.

“I think anything the city can do to bring people to the shore is fabulous,” she said.

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