Township affected by shore goers but remains resilient in the push for local business

Multiple new platforms to learn about local businesses are popping up in Harrison Township

Perhaps nothing will ever stop the mad flow of New Jerseyans and eastern Pennsylvanians to the Shore from the end of May to the last hot days of September. Most enjoy driving down the road to the coast and forgetting about the “real world” for a bit.

However, while cliché, it remains true — the real world never stops.

Luckily for Harrison Township, some businesses in town are not too worried about the slower summer months. Merchants expect — and always will — to see a decline in revenue as the Shore attracts the masses.

Harrison Township Economic Development Council Chair Michele Vallone said, “[Businesses] are affected by it for sure, the foot traffic goes down.”

In conversation with Vallone, multiple businesses shared some statistics about the decline in business felt each summer.

A local Italian restaurant in Mullica Hill told Vallone that a 5 percent decrease in sales is expected each summer due, in part, to vacationers exiting town for the weekends or even weeks at a time.

On a larger scale, a local antique shop owner in the township said the store sees an approximate 25 percent drop in sales during the summer months; however, as part of a co-op, certain sales promotions are in place each year to liven up the flow of traffic.

While the lure of the Shore plays a big role in the decrease in local business for the inland towns, other aspects take effect too.

The owner of a pet grooming shop in Mullica Hill told Vallone that a 30 percent drop in sales is expected from late July into August mainly due to families focusing on getting the kids back to school. However, the business told Vallone that having a twin location in a neighboring township helps keep numbers balanced.

However, it seems as though, by the combined efforts of various groups, a local business initiative is pulsing in the township.

The EDC also collected a list of more than 400 Harrison Township businesses for public use. As an example of the list’s purpose, Vallone, at an EDC meeting early in the year, said, “[People] can search for businesses in Mullica Hill that generate $20,000 or more a month.”

The list is available for free at the Mullica Hill Branch Library through a system called Reference USA, a public information data provider.

The township is also planning to add events to the summer calendar with the hopes of gaining similar success to that of the Mullica Hill Lights on Main event which just won The Best of Gloucester County 2018 Award in the festivals and events category.

“We are currently tossing around the idea of a fourth Friday evening event and possibly having food trucks,” Vallone said, noting that while the township has activities planned in August, there needs to be one with the main goal of increasing foot traffic on Main Street.

An advertising company, separate from EDC, partnered directly with the township to create Mullica Hi’ll Connect. With the goal of keeping residents up to date in the community, residents can sign up at mullicahillconnect.com to receive detailed information on local events and information about local businesses. The information is available via email, social media and other online platforms. In the June 14 email blast, a Father’s Day guide was made available listing shops to buy gifts and restaurants for outings.

“All of EDC’s upcoming events will be posted for all to see under Mullica Hi’ll Connect,” Vallone said.