Shop Locally, Give Generously

By Victoria Ford | Dec 04, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson SEASONS GIFTING: The Shoppes at the Tuckerton Emporium are decked out with all things Merry and Bright. Owners Charlie Francis (above) and family will be dressed in Victorian costume for the Ye Old Tuckerton Christmas on Sunday, Dec. 8 from 3 to 8 p.m.

Ocean County — With holiday shopping underway, Ocean County Freeholder Joseph Vicari urges residents to buy locally with his annual “Buy in Ocean County” campaign, which encourages consumers to support local businesses during the year’s busiest shopping time.

“No matter what is on your wish list this year, the place to find that holiday treasure is right here in Ocean County,” Vicari said. “From the latest electronics to unique crafts and household items, our local shops offer everything a holiday shopper could want.”

Vicari said the many downtown areas throughout the county are good places to find unique independently owned shops and boutiques.

“From Point Pleasant Beach to Tuckerton, across the county, downtowns offer some of the best choices for holiday shopping,” he said. “Many of these stores are owned by long-time residents that continue to be a staple in our communities. Make a day out of it – shop, have lunch and enjoy the area.”

Freeholder Director Virginia Haines said many local chambers of commerce work with businesses in supporting special shopping events throughout the holiday season.

“Our chambers and business associations work hand in hand to offer residents and visitors great shopping experiences,” she said. “Many gifts you buy in Ocean County are produced locally. They are unique and made with care.”

Buying in Ocean County also offers additional protection for consumers.

Each year the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs receives complaints about orders not filled or other concerns residents have when dealing with out-of-state mail order companies.

“We see the same problems year after year,” according to Vicari, who is chairman of the Consumer Affairs Department. “Merchandise is not received in time for the holidays; there are problems with back orders and some received items barely resembling their online or catalog photos and descriptions.”

Pursuing a consumer affairs case against an out-of-state company that does not fall under the jurisdiction of New Jersey’s consumer fraud laws can be difficult.

“When you buy local, you are protected against fraud,” Vicari said. “Our county and state agencies have more authority when dealing with a local business complaint.”

It’s also easier to return an item purchased locally.

“You can drive down the street and visit the store rather than pack and ship a package across the country,” he said.

Another option Vicari suggested is to purchase a gift card for a restaurant, salon or home cleaning service.

The Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs is located at 1027 Hooper Ave., Building 2, Toms River, and can be reached by calling 732-929-2105.

“It’s our goal to promote our local businesses and to make certain the consumer is protected,” Vicari said.

The following is a list of helpful consumer hints:

• To avoid a holiday “spending hangover,” make a list and a budget to stick to.

• Bring ads for sales or special deals to the store. If a store advertises an item at a certain price and then refuses to honor that price, it is considered deceptive advertising, which is illegal in New Jersey. Also be sure to read the fine print on advertising.

• If shopping online, be certain the website is secure or uses encryption before entering personal and credit card information.

• Ask about stores’ return and refund policies; keep all your receipts and store tags on purchased items.

• Be aware of credit card skimming, keep an eye on credit cards at all times, and review account statements carefully. Notify the bank immediately about any discrepancies.

• Watch out for credit card shimming, the shim reader cards are incredibly thin and can be difficult to notice. Consumers can become aware of the presence of shims if they have difficulty inserting their cards into an ATM.

• Before putting items on layaway, ask about the store’s policy.

• Under New Jersey’s Gift Card Act, a gift card’s expiration date and dormancy fee, if any, must be disclosed. And while gift cards may expire after five years from issuance, the funds on the card never expire.

• Check to see if charities are legitimate before donating. Contact the Consumer Affairs Department to see whether a charity is registered, learn about specific charities, and get detailed financial information to find out how the charity has used donations in the past.  —V.F.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.