Is life a beach for Maryland store?
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
KAI RYSSDAL: Weather like that is not going to do beach retailers any good. Summer is when vendors that work on the sand earn their take for the whole year — selling trinkets and T-shirts, key chains and any other engraved thing you may want. We called Perry Pillas to see what the beach business is like during a recession. He owns a beachfront store in Ocean City, Md. Mr. Pillas, good to have you with us.
Perry Pillas: Pleasure to be here.
Ryssdal: Do me a favor and give me a quick description of what it is that you sell.
Pillas: Sweatshirts, sunglasses, beach hats for men and ladies, footwear, suntan lotion, beach bags, kids’ T-shirts and hats, fan toys, just a general variety beach store.
Ryssdal: How has business been so far? You’ve been open, what six weeks, a couple of months?
Pillas: Yeah. It’s been a little bit soft for this year.
Ryssdal: How soft? Are you seeing people actually coming in and buy stuff?
Pillas: I would say a 15 to 20 percent shortfall from last year. It seems like here, junk food seems to be doing pretty good, but clothing is marginal.
Ryssdal: So you’re selling a lot of Twinkies then.
Ryssdal: Up and down the boardwalk there, what are your neighbors and other retailers in the neighborhood, what are they saying to you?
Pillas: What we’re finding is the junk food are doing good and the retail soft people are doing not as good and then the little higher ticket items, like old-time photos that might run people $40, $50, $60 a pop or more, they’re even off more. So the higher the ticket, softer it is.
Ryssdal: Are you expecting this to continue through the summer. I mean, we are in a recession and all.
Pillas: Yeah. I see no reason for it to change. From the customers that are coming into my establishment still come in, but just don’t have the extra money to spend.
Ryssdal: What would it take for you to say, “You know what, this isn’t really worth it and I’m not going to open up this summer”?
Pillas: Well, it’s never been that marginal at the beach. If you enjoy what you’re doing, like I do — I could’ve retired a number of years ago — but I enjoy the interaction, the activity and, until it doesn’t pay me to come up here and put the time and effort in, then that would be a different story.
Ryssdal: Perry Pillas owns a beachfront store called “OC Babies” in Ocean City, Md. Mr. Pillas thanks a lot for your time.
Pillas: Pleasure to be with you.
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