Along the boardwalks that trace South Jersey’s coastline, there are pizza places and T-shirt vendors, frozen custard shops and souvenir sellers.
And recently, a new kind of shop has cropped up — Verizon Wireless locations.
In the past few years, Verizon Wireless stores have opened on boardwalks in Atlantic City, Ocean City and Wildwood, representing the largest presence by far of any cellphone company along local shore towns’ wooden ways.
They also offer a new technological aspect to mostly traditional boardwalk vendors that sell the likes of funnel cakes and hermit crabs.
Sheldon Jones, a Verizon spokesman, said the Boardwalk stores were part of a recognition to beef up Verizon’s prominence.
“We recognized the need for more presence at shore points early last year, in particular to service the swell in tourists during the busy summer season,” Jones said.
The Boardwalk locations are not corporate stores but are agent locations of We R Wireless, referred to as a “premium retailer” and seller of Verizon wireless products and services, Jones said.
Corporate offices for We R Wireless are based in Mount Laurel, Burlington County.
The company lists 85 stores in eight states on its website, including others in South Jersey and in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean counties.
As with other Boardwalk businesses, the spots have the built-in appeal of tremendous foot traffic going past the windows and front door hourly.
“We get a variety of customers … like customers that just want to stop and look at the new technology when they are on their vacations,” said Ashish Shah, of Galloway Township, a manager at the Wildwood Boardwalk location.
They also handle technical problems and — one common theme near the ocean — people who accidentally drenched their phones with seawater.
“A lot of people do take it in the water by mistake or mess it up by the sand or something like,” he said.
The Ocean City Boardwalk location opened two years ago. In Wildwood, on the Boardwalk near the North Wildwood border, the shop opened in April and is scheduled to remain open until October, he said.
The stores are stocked like traditional wireless stores, with the latest Samsung Galaxy phones, iPhones and rows of other glowing smartphones and devices attached to displays, as well as racks of protective cases and other go-alongs.
Yet the locations look different against a backdrop of other Boardwalk businesses. In Wildwood, the Verizon store shares the block with a pizza parlor and a T-shirt shop blaring loud music to draw customers.
In Wildwood, the famous “watch the tram car please” trolley rolls past the front door regularly.
Customers stopped in on a recent weekday afternoon, some to browse, others to ask questions about their phones.
Heather Johnson, who was on vacation and is from Boyertown, Pa., was walking past the store and walked in.
“I didn’t ever know this was here,” she said. “I guess it’s good.”
Jones said a benefit to the shore locations is that they serve areas where the 4G LTE network is available.
Jones said Verizon began deploying the high-speed network at shore points such as Atlantic City in May 2012.
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