Shop Smart, Shop Local This Holiday Season

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  OCEAN COUNTY – As the holiday shopping frenzy picks up the pace, the annual “Buy in Ocean County” campaign is urging Ocean County residents to shop local.

  “No matter what is on your wish list this year, the place to find that holiday treasure is right here in Ocean County,” Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari said. While the Ocean County Mall, among other big outlets, are typically popular destinations for shoppers, Vicari noted that many local downtowns offer unique shops, boutiques, and small businesses that appreciate the support.

  “Many of these stores are owned by long-time residents that continue to be a staple in our communities,” Vicari said. “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.”

  Vicari, who is also chairman of the Consumer Affairs Department, has received many complaints in past seasons from online shoppers:

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  “Merchandise is not received in time for the holidays, there are problems with backorders and some received items barely resembling their online or catalog photos and descriptions,” he said. “Our county and state agencies have more authority when dealing with local businesses.”

  According to Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines, many local chambers of commerce are able to work with these businesses and support special shopping events throughout the holiday season, not to mention protect local consumers against fraud.

  “It’s our goal to promote our local businesses and to make certain the consumer is protected,” Vicari said. “You can drive down the street and visit the store rather than pack and ship a package across the country. Our Ocean County small businesses truly offer something for everyone.”

  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.

  Several towns also have safe spaces for residents to meet in order to finalize transactions that began online. These spaces are in the parking lots of police stations under camera surveillance.