(Aug. 2, 2013) The Ocean City Council was far more forgiving this week to tiny sunglasses than it was two months ago to teeny weenies, approving a request to allow sample shades and other tchotchkes to be given away during Quiet Storm Surf Shop’s beach surf movies.
Local promoter Brad Hofmann, who organizes the events, put in a request to be allowed to give away Quiet Storm logo apparel like T shirts, key chains, and kids’ sunglasses during the showings, which run every Saturday night during the summer season.
Hofmann uses an inflatable screen and projector to show vintage surf and skateboarding films, as well as footage from local video artists, outside of Quiet Storm’s store on the Boardwalk at North Division Street.
“The response has been great. We’ve had a lot of families coming out. It’s a great, all-ages sort of thing,” Hoffman said.
However, there has always been some tension amongst Boardwalk business owners over allowing private events to distribute items that could compromise the sale of those same items elsewhere on the boards.
In June, the city denied a request by the Dew Tour to give out sample hot dogs from 7-Eleven, one of the tour’s main sponsors, on the grounds that food distribution on the festival grounds would cut away from the expected economic stimulus to nearby Boardwalk eateries.
“There are merchants on the Boardwalk who will tell you that if [customers] have your free T shirt, then they won’t go buy another one somewhere else,” Councilwoman Margaret Pillas told Hoffman.
“It is a sore spot on the Boardwalk as far as giving stuff out,” agreed Council President Lloyd Martin, who said he feared that offering giveaway rights to Quiet Storm would have other merchants expect that they could do the same.
“Is there any way that the person next door…would want to be involved in [the giveaways] as well? It is a public beach,” Martin said.
“Bill [Dreibelbis, Quiet Storm owner] is the one paying the costs and fees to hold the movies, so it would be difficult to invite other people into the same event,” Hoffman said. “They’re not items that would be available elsewhere on the Boardwalk, they’re Quite Storm-branded apparel. But something like Tony’s Pizza obviously does not compete with Quiet Storm, for instance, so it would be easy to incorporate them.”
“[Dreibelbis] is the one paying to bring people down there,” Pillas agreed. “The merchants are already able to take advantage of what he’s doing.”