Come Memorial Day in Southern NJ, there’s only one thing on everyone’s mind: The Jersey shore. Thousands of twenty-somethings ditch their blue jeans for board shorts and pack into cars bound for the coast. The wooden planks of the Ocean City Boardwalk creak beneath the feet of eager tourists. Women in bikinis sunbath by the ocean, their limbs shimmering in a sheen of sweat; their eyes hidden behind dark shades. Men plop onto beach chairs and push their toes into the sand, clutching cans of Coors Light.
Summer tourism provides a needed boost for many businesses at the Jersey shore. Of all the bars and liquor stores in the area, one establishment in particular stands out as having experienced a tremendous upsurge in alcohol sales during beach season for the past several decades. Located between the Garden State Parkway and Ocean City, Boulevard Super Liquors is a vacationer’s last chance to pick up a case of beer before entering a dry town. On May 8, 2017, the store’s owners Dan and Dave Beyel placed the largest order in Kramer Beverage Co. history. The order, which included over seven-thousand cases of beer, barely lasted them a month.
Recently, Kramer Beverage sat down with Dan and Dave to discuss their success and find out what has kept their business going strong for so many years.
KB: First, tell us about your location and the ways in which it has contributed to the success of your store.
Dan: We’re fortunate that our grandmother, Sadie, and our father, Samuel, chose to open the store at this location. In 1938, while the Garden State Parkway was under construction, they thought it would be a great idea to position the store between the highway and Ocean City. Turns out, they were right. Millions of people vacation in Ocean City every year, all them driving by our store on their way to the beach.
Dave: As you know, Ocean City is a dry town. Because we’re the closest liquor store, we control the market. In other words, if you’re vacationing in Ocean City and you need beer, we’re your best and most convenient choice.
KB: With all the different varieties of beer available, especially in the craft segment, where do you gain insight as to what your customers like?
Dan: Because of all the information available on the internet, the plethora of websites devoted to reviewing craft beers, today’s beer drinkers are much more informed than previous generations. My brother and I follow all the popular sites, reading several reviews a week and trying to keep up with all the latest trends.
Dave: Customer feedback is extremely important to us. We do our absolute best to make all the best products available for our customers, but if we don’t have something they want, we’ll order it. There are request sheets at the front of the store. Fill one out and we promise to have that product on the shelves as soon as possible.
KB: How do you keep your customers informed of store happenings and new products?
Dan: We promote all our events and products on social media. Since we have a loyal following on Facebook and Instagram, news seems to spread rather quickly.
Dave: In-store advertisements and beer displays are a great way to keep our costumers informed of new products, as well. We’ve found that creative beer displays are the best way to showcase the variety of beer available in our store. They also encourage our customers to branch out and try new brands. For instance, someone who typical drinks Bud may feel prompted to try Sam Adam’s Summer Ale after having walked past an eye-catching display.
KB: Do you see a spike in sales while hosting a beer tasting? Also, what impact, if any, have events, festivals, concerts and block parties had on your business?
Dan: Lately, beer tastings have been extremely valuable to our business. While hosting a tasting, we not only see significant increases in beer sales, but we also get to engage with our customers. Tastings are a great way to find out what people like and don’t like. They also create a welcoming atmosphere in the store.
Dave: Every time there’s an event taking place at the shore—like Irish Weekend, the Polar Bear Plunge, an auto show, a block party or a concert—our store is jam-packed. In the winter, when our overall sales numbers are down, an event in the area will give us a huge boost. The same is true for all businesses at the Jersey shore. That’s why we support and welcome all events in our area.
KB: As an account that thrives in the summer, what do you do to combat the drop-off in sales during the fall and winter months?
Dan: First and foremost, we cut expenses. We can predict, based off of several years of experience, when the drop-off is coming and how to manage our inventory. Any loss in revenue that can be avoided is addressed.
Dave: Because the shore is pretty much vacant for a few months every year, we can’t rely on customers finding us. Instead, we have to make an effort to find them. We reach out to them through social media and advertisement, announcing tastings and promoting events in Ocean City. We also offer our customers a number of discounts and specialty products—items they won’t find anywhere else. For instance, during the holidays, we design custom gift baskets. These baskets are sold both in the store and online. Ultimately, we have to give customers a reason to visit our store.