Is there anyone in Maryland who hasn’t fantasized about quitting the rat-race in the city and opening a small business in Ocean City? Boutique, bar, bread and breakfast, restaurant, ice cream shop?
A variety of locations are available. Where would you like to do business? West Ocean City? Baltimore Avenue? Someplace along the Coastal Highway? There are even a few storefronts available on the Boardwalk.
To tell the truth, it’s already getting late to be thinking about a new business in Ocean City for the 2010 season. A start-up business takes time to plan and finance. You need to order fixtures, or equipment, or repair the existing stuff. You need to order merchandise, and stock the shelves. You need to hire help. Even if you’re experienced in your business, you’ll run into unforeseen pitfalls. Everything takes longer than you thought.
Difficult as starting a new business can be anyplace, a seasonal business is particularly challenging. The really busy peak of the summer season in Ocean City is the same now as it was when I managed the Boardwalk 5 & 10, 35 years ago. The middle of June, the month of July, to the middle of August. About eight weeks, nine if you’re lucky. Early June is medium-busy; same thing for the end of August.
What’s different now is that the shoulder season starts with Springfest — first weekend of May — and continues past Sunfest — last weekend of September. (The folks who thought up Springfest and Sunfest were visionaries.) With luck, you can have some pretty good weekends in May and early June, and September. Even a couple of weekends in October. A lot depends on the weather. But make no mistake, if you’re not making money in July, you won’t make up for it in May or September.
As a curmudgeon named Bill Wilcox told me years ago, “You can make money in Ocean City, if you know what you’re doing.” The second part of that sentence is crucial.
It’s the middle of winter, and it’s possible you could be doing business in Ocean City by May or June 2010, if nothing goes wrong. Or you could start scouting for a location, and making a business plan, and be in business by May or June 2011.
If you are thoroughly experienced in the business you want to open, if you have start-up capital to burn, and if you’re willing to work very hard, you might be able to make your dream come true in Ocean City.