Ocean County Press Release
It's a similar refrain rolled out every year right before the holidays by Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari.

"We want everyone to buy local," Vicari said. "We want you to buy in Ocean County."

Vicari, who serves as liaison to Tourism and Business Development, has led the "Buy in Ocean County" effort for many years emphasizing the many benefits of buying locally.

"This year I want to encourage everyone to buy locally," Vicari said. "Our downtowns and business areas have so much to offer. I am asking you to patronize local businesses including our small ‘mom and pop' stores. These stores offer a host of items, many unique, along with great customer service.

"So many of them support our community organizations," he said. "This is the perfect time to remember them as you set out to do your holiday shopping."

While malls, such as the Ocean County Mall, Toms River and the Jackson Outlets, Jackson Township, remain leading destinations for holiday shoppers, Vicari said the county's many local downtowns offer unique shops and boutiques.

"From Point Pleasant Beach to Tuckerton, across the County, downtowns offer some of the best choices for holiday shopping," Vicari 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 just enjoy the area. There is plenty to see and do in all of our municipalities. The towns are all festively decorated for the holidays. Shopping is fun and easy when you shop locally."

Vicari said many towns have added special holiday features like carriage rides, trolley service and seasonal discounts to enhance the shopping experience.

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. If you need consumer help, the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs is located at 1027 Hooper Ave., Building 2, Toms River or can be reached by calling 732-929-2105.

"We see the same problems year after year," said Vicari, who is chairman of the Consumer Affairs Department. "Merchandise is not received in time for the holidays, there are problems with backorders and some received items barely resembling their catalog photos and descriptions."

To make matters worse, it is often difficult to pursue a consumer affairs case against an out-of-state company that does not fall under the jurisdiction of New Jersey's consumer fraud laws.

"When you buy local, you are protected against fraud," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "Our county and state agencies have more authority when dealing with a local business complaint. Our Department of Consumer Affairs is well known for getting a successful outcome to a complaint."

It is 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 country," he said.

Vicari also urges local business owners to join area chambers of commerce and business associations.

"Networking is so advantageous," he said. "Business owners can learn about a host of opportunities that will benefit their business including marketing and promotional opportunities."

Vicari said the small businesses in Ocean County often offer unique, one of a kind items that will thrill anyone who finds them in their stocking or under their tree.

"This County is filled with small businesses that carry items that will be enjoyed for years to come," Vicari said. "Our small businesses offer something for everyone. And if your loved one is tough to shop for, gift cards to our restaurants and small shops will be greatly appreciated."

During the holidays and throughout the year, Vicari noted, small business owners work hard to bring a pleasant experience to all shoppers.

"Local business owners are known for giving back to their communities. Buying locally helps our economy and promises a positive outcome for both the shopper and the business owner," Vicari said. "The results are priceless."

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