Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Is life a beach for Maryland store?

Marketplace Staff May 22, 2009
Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Is life a beach for Maryland store?

Marketplace Staff May 22, 2009


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.

Pillas: Yeah.

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.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

Need some Econ 101?

Our new Marketplace Crash Course is here to help. Sign-up for free, learn at your own pace.