, ,

Ocean City: The Economy in Microcosm

I went to the beach this past weekend. The whole family. Rented a three bedroom apartment a dozen blocks or so from the inlet. No, this isn’t going to be a What I Did On My Summer Vacation Blog, although that would be fun.

Living in the DC metro area, we’ve been going to Ocean City, Maryland at least once a year since high school. And we have seen it change over that time. Businesses come and go in all beach towns, but the past few years have been interesting in Ocean City. First we had “condoization” where every unused piece of property, and some that were being used, were bought up by condo developers. Layton’s got downsized to make way for more condominiums. Bahama Mama’s was closed and relocated in the new condo building that “ate” its site. It got scarier when restaurants and amusements started vanishing for this. Remember Polar Golf? I mean who wants a condo in a town when the restaurants and the rides you go to the town for were put out of business to build it? Been to Chesapeake Beach recently? I rest my case.

With the plummeting economy the condos have stopped; dead in their tracks it would seem. Huge weed-filled empty lots seem to dot the Coastal Highway, reminding me of Las Vegas. Now we are seeing “consolidation.” All ready established businesses are moving to vacant larger venues. Others are buying up smaller businesses. The old Wharf is now a new Higgins’ Crabhouse. The old Higgins’ Crabhouse is Bahama Mama’s II, garishly painted red and yellow like that old Windows “Hotdog Stand” theme. OK, I noticed it and remembered it. I still think it’s too hideous to digest food in there. Tutti Gusti was bought by Phillips and Melvin’s Steakhouse is now serving Dayton’s fried chicken and soft crabs. The inlet Burger King is gone, replaced by Davy Jones Locker-room sports bar.

In the bigger world, Fiat just bought Chrysler. General Motors declared bankruptcy this morning and seems likely to go the same way. Banks are gobbling each other up all over the country. My favorite beach town is just the small screen view of a larger picture.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Gabriela Dow

Interesting — not only b/c we are about to plan a trip to Cape May NJ (my husband is from Redbank) and it will be interesting to see the changed there, but also because everything you describe mirrors what we have been seeing here in downtown San Diego for so long now… very difficult to see when a bottom will be reached and more difficult to see how this crash is affecting people and communities in the ways that you observed.


True here as well….the small businesses and restaurants around the University has drastically changed. Huge 6 story buildings now surround the campus, and the quaint one-story buildings gone! Landmarks that the city wanted to preserve 10-12 years ago, have been demolished.

Cheryl Wahlheim

Just came back from the DOE Cyber Security conference in Las Vegas the first part of May. Same thing there. Two years ago we were there for a wedding and couldn’t get across town without miles of construction and endless detours. This time, very, very quiet. Even nice housing areas like Summerlin have multiple houses for sale on each block. The problem is, the developers have already come in and devastated the land, and then left big, empty holes everywhere.