LOWER TOWNSHIP — Everyone driving into Cape May from the Garden State Parkway passes Cape May Beach and Kite Shop, a small shack building where colorful spinners twirl in the wind.
Inside is almost everything someone would need for a day or week at the shore — beach chairs, kites, umbrellas, toys, sand pails, custom patio and deck furniture and other items.
Stan Truempy, 58, who owns the business with his wife, Jean, opened the store eight years ago, using the beach store concept he started 16 years ago at a smaller store on Beach Drive in Cape May.
Truempy said the store’s location — along the southbound lane of Route 109 directly outside Cape May — makes it a visible and popular destination.
“They hit me first,” he said. “I have everything they need. We appeal to people coming down for the day or the weekend, and people here for the season.”
In tourist-dependent Cape May County, vacationers spent nearly $5 billion last year, according to data from the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism. That includes $862 million in retail sales.
Truempy, who lives in Collingswood, Camden County, and whose parents had a home in the Reeds Beach section of Middle Township, became a business owner 16 years ago after being laid off from his job as a route salesman.
He knew he wanted a business catering to tourists at the seashore.
“I always loved the shore and flying kites, and I always wanted to own a retail store,” he said. “You work for a living and raise a family, it’s tough to give up that steady income and open a business.”
Truempy found a market in Cape May. He sells spinners, which are colorful home decorations that spin in the wind. One of his most popular items is not used in the summertime at all — a witch on a bicycle whose wheels spin in the wind.
Vacationers tend to buy them in the summer to use at their homes in October, he said.
Truempy said his business also began specializing in unique forms of beach chairs designed for heavy beachgoers and those with bad knees and hips.
The chairs are wider, with a 500-pound weight limit, and are higher off the ground than standard beach chairs.
“People asked, ‘Do you have anything higher? I can’t get out of this,’” he said. “It’s embarrassing if the only way to get out of a beach chair is to roll on the ground to get up.”
With the busy summer season bearing down, Truempy is waiting to see how he fares. The effects of high gas prices are always difficult to gauge, although he said he doubts high fuel prices will have much impact.
The weather is a different story.
“I watch the weather like crazy,” he said.
But even if the sun doesn’t shine, the business covers its bases.
“I even have toys for rainy days, like paint with numbers and craft sets,” he said. “Families have to occupy the kids. It’s amazing how much business you can do on a rainy day.”
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