Since shoppers can’t go to what is traditionally a blockbuster annual Ocean City Spring Block Party, the merchants thought of the next best way to bring deals, discounts and unique items to patrons — in the comfort of their own homes.
The Virtual Spring Block Party is this Saturday, May 2, and will feature a nearly endless amount of possibilities for shoppers who can browse cookware, clothing, jewelry, books and more — all online.
The Spring Block Party traditionally attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Ocean City’s downtown shopping district and helps to kick off the tourism season. Asbury Avenue is closed to vehicular traffic for the day, turning the downtown area into a giant pedestrian mall to accommodate the festival-like celebration.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when stores on the Boardwalk, the downtown and throughout the country are shuttered due to social distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, the virtual event will allow people to still enjoy shopping locally, but from the safety of their own homes, explained Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“In an effort to continue the yearly tradition of the Spring Block Party, the Chamber of Commerce has been working to make this year’s event virtual so people can shop from the comfort of their own home,” Gillian said in an email. “Having a virtual block party gives people access to our wonderful Ocean City stores.”
This way, visitors who normally make the Block Party an annual tradition can still take advantage of the downtown shopping event, albeit online.
“Ocean City is ‘home’ to so many people and they miss their favorite stores on the island,” Gillian pointed out. “They can still shop our businesses and get great deals from them online.”
Some people posted comments about the virtual block party on the Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page.
A post by Aimee Alven summed up the feelings of some of the other people who posted on the topic.
“We are disappointed that circumstances are keeping the block party from happening, but what a great alternative!” Alven wrote.
And while getting the best deals, customers are also helping out their favorite businesses that have had to temporarily close due to the coronavirus.
“Our small businesses are hurting because of the pandemic. They still have to pay their bills, yet their brick and mortar stores cannot be open for normal business,” Gillian emphasized. “Virtual shopping can give the store owners the boost they need since the customers have access to their favorite shops.”
Some details that Gillian said make this Virtual Block Party unique and special compared to other virtual events.
“Ocean City is known for having unique stores and businesses. People will be able to shop ‘America’s Greatest Family Resort’ for their favorite O.C. staples,” she noted. “It will also help get people excited to come back to Ocean City when the businesses can reopen and keep Ocean City at the forefront.”