Beautiful Beaches and Family Friendly. Yet Empty Businesses Still Plague Brigantine

We counted over 40 empty retail stores on beautiful Brigantine Beach this summer. That number will grow even larger this fall. If Brigantine can attract those who love our beaches, why can’t we pull in business investors, start-ups and entrepreneurs?

The Pirates Den continues to operate while the owners keep an eye out for anyone looking to take over their cash-flow positive eatery. The Pirates Dens has been on the market for well over a year now. Cool Cones plans to shut down this fall after a valiant effort to grow their gourmet ice cream business at the semi-hidden Brigantine Town Center, home of ACME & TD Bank.

And after 40 years, the Root Beer Barrel is up for sale. The popular surf shop shocked all by placing a for sale sign in front of their kayak festooned storefront recently. Will somebody step up to take over this landmark business? Some have asked if the Root Beer Barrel was disadvantaged by not having city support like another surf shop on the island.

The old CVS at 9th & Brigantine Ave, (at one time a bowling alley) will soon be closing its doors. A small handful of other business operators have quietly placed their properties on the market.

All of this retail ruin begs the question: Why does Brigantine get high marks from those who enjoy our family-friendly beaches, but outside business operators and entrepreneurs’ won’t touch Brigantine with a 10 foot pole?

What keep new business development away from Brigantine? What do you think? Post your comments below.

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18 thoughts on “Beautiful Beaches and Family Friendly. Yet Empty Businesses Still Plague Brigantine”

  1. I once had a food business in PA. You go into your business with high hopes, put a lot of sweat and love into your business and find out customers just don’t come in enough to make it wonderfully successful.

    So don’t put the full blame on the city. Most likely these businesses are renting – what’s the cost of the rent – probably too high due to the greedy landlords who have to pay the exorbitant taxes on their properties – this is where the city should get involved and be creative with the taxes to the landlords who can then pass on the savings to the business owners with lower rents.

    Lower rents allow the businesses to have additional monies to advertise to attract customers to their businesses. But the customers need to support the local businesses. This is where the city and chamber of commerce can help with whatever marketing ideas they can devise to get brigantine residents to shop on the island. Bottom line, ALL involved must be involved from the city creating opportunities, the landlords charging fair rents, businesses charging fair prices and Brigantine residents (full & part time residents) supporting these local businesses.

    A volunteer “think-tank” should be created to come up with ideas.

    1. I think we can all agree that brigantine needs more commercial tax rateables to take some of the burden of the backs of residential tax payers. we also need commercial attractions to increase tourism and provide potential customers for existing businesses.
      I have what might be considered a big idea and it may be too late to make this idea a reality but here it is.

      There are two parcels of undeveloped land on each side of the bridge.These sites are the gateway to brigantine and should not be developed with more residential housing. I realize there are residential permits already in place but if possible the owners of the land should be encouraged to forget residential development and consider developing one of the sites with a major hotel chain like Marriott and the other as a year round water park. The hotel could have docks so patrons can come by land or sea. It could also have a restaurant with one of the best views in South Jersey. The water park site could also be used to house the Brigantine manual stranding center.

      Brigantine does not need more housing, it needs visitors to shop in our stores, eat at our restaurants and enjoy our beaches, golf courses, parks and other amenities.

      It is time for the economic development people to think,out side the box and do something big that would turn Brigantine around and allow it to reach its full potential as one of the outstanding shore towns on the east coast.

  2. When Brigantine lost 3,000 residents it lost a big chunk of the customer base that previously supported many of the shops and restaurants. In addition there really is not much to do in Brigantine that would attract tourists.

    Brigantine needs to re-think it’s master plan and figure out what kind of community it wants to be.

    If it’s going to continue to be essentially a residential community with homes that are not affordable by most Americans, then there’s not much anyone can do to save existing businesses or to attract new ones to fill the vacant stores.

    I would like to see Brigantine become a tourist destination with an attractive downtown shopping district where you can walk around and take in art shows, outdoor concerts and other activities.

    Brigantine should also capitalize on it’s excellent island location and offer more in the way of water sports, water parks, boat rides and a few amusements for the kids. It might be a good idea to bring back the haunted house which used to attract thousands all year around.

    There are lots of things that could be done to save the business community. But nothing can really happen until our political leaders decide what kind of community Brigantine should be and put in place whatever is needed to make it happen.

  3. The people who live there do not support the businesses there. They shop off the island. If it wasn’t for second home owners there would be no stores there. Seasonal owners, renters support that island, not the people who live there.

  4. Really – Brigantine is probably the nicest beach in area – but after that, Brigantine offers nothing. Nothing Unless your kids are here for the summer as a junior life guard, yacht club member, or a surf fishing enthusiast. Brigantine charges for everything. They chased long time residents away by over taxing.properties. You could pay less in property tax in Avalon. The last attraction here was the Brigantine Castle and arcade across the street. Nothing new here – same old political bs. Attract me – entertain the family- wake up! How about being user friendly? Why not give home owners 4 beach tags – no charge! Throw us a bone!

  5. CVS (9th st) is closing because they opened a new store (Lighthouse Circle).

    Brigantine businesses have NEVER done well. Brigantine citizens (full time) just don’t shop here. They go off the island for many things.

  6. I’m looking at the photos you posted. One is the old Midge’s salon, which was flooded out in the hurricane. She is currently sharing a store with Studio 1012, so she is still in business on the island. (editors note: empty retail locations in prime spot, with little demand from a new business operator)

    Another is the Dollar Discount which was a huge success until it changed hands and had practically NO stock left. I used to shop there twice a week as I work in the school system and would shop there for my students. (editors note: aahhh.. I see that you are a Brigantine pubic union employee)

    Dollar Discount was mismanaged and everyone hated to see it go. (ed note: why no one to grab that prime, empty retail location, after all this time?)

    Another photo is of the old library which then became the beach badge office. (ed note: why no interest from outside entrepreneurs?) It moved to the new Community Center and is still on the island and supported by everyone who goes to the beach. (editors note: taxpayer supported buildings)

    Another is of the old CVS which moved to the new CVS, duh! (ed note: when this building is vacated, we fear it will sit and rot)

    And the Pirate’s Den is NOT closing due to any problems with patronage. (ed note: no kidding)

    The Pirate Den owner (who I have worked for the past 8 years) is retiring. The business is as crowded as ever, which you would know if YOU supported it! Evidently you haven’t been there.
    (editors note: do you track our spending in Brigantine? evidently, no.)

    The Rod and Reel was destroyed in the flood, what does that have to do with this post? ( ed note: why no interest from business / retail investors? )

    Cool Cones just never hit it off. (ed note: tough location, no traffic)

    Burger King was very successful in the beginning, we just grew tired of the fast food thing. (ed note: BK and other fast food places can’t profit when communities fall below 12,000 full-timers. Maybe we should insist all public employees live on the island?)

    Again, I suggest doing some research and getting your facts straight before you speak. ( ed note: yes, the facts show that you, as a well paid public employee of Brigantine, will do anything to protect the status quo. )

  7. As a native Ocean City resident, now a Galloway resident, I choose Brigantine when I want to go to the beach, beyond that, I don’t come to the island.

    One of the major downfalls of the island is there is nothing to draw me there. No big spring or fall festivals, no retail that is unique, no quaint shopping area.

    You also suffer from the fact that no one can just pass through Brigantine on the way to somewhere else. With only one bridge on and off the island, people have to consciously decide to go there.

    Most other islands benefit from the ability to pass through and go on to the next town. LBI only has one way in/out but offers multiple towns each with a unique offering, enticing people to visit.

    Brigantine should seriously look to the old plans of connecting the north end of the island to the southern end of LBI. This would create a transient crowd that could visit on their way to LBI and would allow a flow from LBI south into AC. It would be a win for Brig, a win for LBI and win for AC with easier, quicker access for all.

    1. I have always looked at the “one way on/off” thing as a positive, like living on a giant cul-de-sac. It always felt safer raising kids here that people only come here for a purpose, not to pass through. No one to snatch up your child and just keep going. They could always close the bridge down, and they have! But I would love a quaint little shopping area! We do have Fall Festivals and Family Fun Day in July, though. And our beaches are superb.

      1. Yes, there are pros & cons to having ‘one way on & off’ of Brigantine Island.

        Less flow-thru traffic is good for peacefulness, but the downside is that Brigantine doesn’t get much ‘sampling’ from those passing by.

        If Brigantine had better marketing & awareness to the ‘outside world’, the cul-de-sac thing would be nothing but a big PLUS.

        Alas, past Brigantine leadership and the Chamber did virtually nothing to market Brigantine. Many say that was on purpose.

        The Brigantine Chamber’s campaign slogan for tourism; “South Jersey’s best kept secret” …..was so successful….that it killed off all the motels & 99% of the attractions.

        Instead of investing in NEW Business development, Brigantine’s Jim Barber & Mayor Guenther invested in hiring more public safety personnel and hiking the public union salaries.

        A few years back, the City Manager/ Public Safety Director (Jim Barber) cut off all funding for tourism & economic development.

        That was a very bad move.

  8. The Pirate’s Den has been on the market for over 4 years, not one! The reason it is still on the market is that the owner has some specific stipulations. Facts, people!

    1. Yes. On the market quietly for about 2 years….then they had to put a sign up on the building.

      The Pirates Den is supposedly still profitable. We totally believe that. It’s a great place with awesome food.

      But we just can’t understand why a budding cook or restaurateur doesn’t snap this place up.

  9. This isn’t the first time I’ve said this, but Brigantine needs to leverage it’s beaches with a more beachy business center like LBI’s Wharf area.
    Cosmetically, it’s all over the place. There isn’t one nautical looking business on the island – no charm.

    We try to patronize the businesses on the island even tho’ we’re renters.

    There’s lots of great food places. The Farmer’s Market was a big hit. I also look forward to the Flea markets too.

    1. Brigantine Taxpayer

      Agreed. Nautical charm and a vibrant, business center could do great things for Brigantine.

      At one time, the Lighthouse Circle area was discussed as being a mixed-use destination featuring shops, dining, etc. Then one day, back in 2008 or so, taxpayers find out that City Council quietly did a deal with CVS. (a not so beachy & non-nautical tourist attraction). Did we really need another CVS?

      Did we really need to give up that prime land to a big, honkin’ chain store? Ask the Business Chamber’s Mike Brennan how he got hosed by City Council back in 2009 on that issue.

      The Lighthouse Circle currently features a gas station & auto repair shop, a laundromat, an restaurant that’s only open in the Summer, and a dirt lot that could eventually become a giant waterfront house. Residential construction on that land would effectively block one the last remaining bay views in Brigantine. All because City Manager/Public Safety Director BARBER and Mayor Guenther had no strategic zoning plans.

      Of course, back in the day….the Mayor, Jim Barber and a now-exiled Police Chief Frugoli made life miserable for Fred Ray, one time owner of that circle gas station. We assume Fred was not a privileged Brigantine insider.

      Past administrations felt that they had to kill tourism, marinas, amusements, etc…. for fear of attracting “the wrong element”. (whatever that means).

      Instead of a booming economy, the Mayor gave us more 6-figure Firemen.

  10. love to see the email banters. if only the council were to read and reply… as a taxpayer, but not full time resident, just wish i had more time to attempt to get Brigantine up and going – so all you full time residents need to take the reins and show the council we don’t need more highly paid public employees but instead spend that money on getting Brig on the map. Got a long way to go on that one. Good luck and BrigantineNow, keep poking at them!

  11. How about week end events all year round to bring summer residents back every week end.such as weekly car shows,farmers markets! carnivals! more events for kids. Get people back on weekends and buisnesses could survive

  12. Patrick (Resident)

    I live on the island and work off island at the FAA Tech Center, developers should be required to put year round amenities (Health club ?) in places that would encourage those who leave the island on a day-to-day basis to spend more time (and money) in town. I am realistic though, competing with Atlantic City means forget fine dining, and as far as shopping, we lost when AC built the new Tanger Outlets. My college age kids make too much money at their summer jobs to spend time in Brig, and the local seasonal employment scene (Laguna Bar & Grill) doesn’t have the ability to compete with the opportunities in AC’s nightlife. I hope Richman’s and Aunt B’s a couple blocks apart succeeds, who doesn’t love the bicycle to ice cream rides in the summer 🙂

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