The local weekly newspaper, The Maryland Coast Dispatch, published a long interview with Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro, beginning on page 8 in the Aug. 30, 2013 edition. It’s well worth a read.
Chief Buzzuro’s comments on one particular issue touched a nerve with me:
“We talk about beer bongs, underage drinking, explicit T-shirts and there are still merchants that sell knives. Why does anyone need to sell knives on the Boardwalk? They are not Swiss Army knives by the way, just for clarification.”
Steve Green, editor of the Dispatch, noted that the issue of stores and the merchandise they sell involves the freedom of private enterprise. He asked the police chief if there is a practical solution. Chief Buzzuro responded, in part:
“Getting back to the knives being sold on the Boardwalk issue, I cannot remain quiet about that because of the dangers that causes . . . There’s no real legitimate use for it, particularly at the beach.”
Cpl. Mike Levy, police public information officer, added:
“Why do we need a case of weapons on Boardwalk front? What’s next? Are we going to put a gun shop on the Boardwalk too?”
Buzzuro and Levy urged property owners and merchants to “meet us halfway.” I think Buzzuro summed up the situation nicely when he said:
“We need to have a change in products, merchandise, attitude and culture.”
Attitude and culture have evolved over the decades, and not always in a good way. See also a related post, “Summer of the Knife.”
I know the Boardwalk can be better. I managed a small store on the Boardwalk in the 1970s. We sold an incredible variety of useful merchandise, and we did a great business. Many of today’s merchants go for the easy buck and show little creativity or enterprise in retailing.
Please do not assume that excellent retail businesses cannot be found in Ocean City, because that is not the case. I could name any number of high-quality retail stores in the resort, but I won’t because I’d inevitably leave someone out.
As an example of the variety of wholesome enterprises that could prosper (assuming rent prices moderated by a bit of community spirit) here are some of the attractions we once had on the Boardwalk.
- An auction house selling rugs and antiques.
- A summer dinner-theater.
- Several bingo parlors operated for local charities.
I applaud the Dispatch for being willing to tackle complex and controversial issues with fairness and professionalism.
— John Hayden