Earlier than the Bird – November 21

(this article by Lauren Avellino Turton appears in the Holiday 2015 issue of Ocean City magazine)

‘Twas the month before Christmas ‘long Asbury Ave. Plenty o’ sales n’ sweets for ye shoppers to have.
The storefronts are decked out by their owners with care, In hopes ye early birds will soon be there.

The early bird really does get the worm during Ocean City’s annual “Earlier Than the Bird Downtown Shopping Extravaganza” coming to Asbury Avenue Saturday, November 21 from 8am until noon. Grab your Christmas shopping list, roll out in your pajamas, and get ready to shop ‘til you drop.
“It’s a wonderful event for the whole family,” says Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. “There are a ton of activities going on to get shoppers into the holiday spirit.”
First things first – the free coffee to fire up the festivities.
“We provide free coffee to all shoppers in their pajamas,” says Jon Talese, owner of Jon & Patty’s Coffee Bar and Bistro. “Folks stream in with their shopping bags and have a laugh looking at themselves and others wearing their pj’s. We have special themed lattes and other goodies for this great shopping day which has become a holiday tradition.”
Once shoppers get their gears going, they can take advantage of the special discounts offered by many of the retailers and restaurants. Plus there are free giveaways, gift certificate drawings, and a family-friendly pajama costume contest. The winners take home a free turkey to enjoy this Thanksgiving!
Speaking of turkeys, the kids will really gobble up the fun dancing and singing with the turkey mascot! Guests can also take a free horse and carriage ride through town while enjoying strolling carolers.
The Earlier than the Bird event kicks off a bustling holiday shopping season on Asbury Avenue. Having this special event early helps ease the stress of busy Black Friday. Plus it shines the spotlight on one of the biggest downtown shopping areas in New Jersey.
“Ocean City’s Asbury Avenue has really become a premiere shopping destination,” says Gillian. “Unlike big malls, we have unique boutiques, galleries, cafes, and other shops – 109 businesses in all with new stores opening their doors every year. We see businesses from generations ago, as well as fresh new faces investing in the success. Asbury Avenue meets the needs of most people.”
You can pick up your Christmas gifts, get your hair done or treat yourself to a massage, take care of banking, and grab a gourmet coffee and slice of pie, all within a six block stretch.
“The eclectic mixture adds to the personality of the town. It’s like a quaint little town you’d see in a Hallmark Christmas movie,” Gillian says.
There’s no shortage of charming stores to find a unique present for everyone on your list.
“Find high-end women’s clothing and accessories at boutiques such as Pappagallo, Donna K. Dillon, and Sunseekers, to the fun, trendy fashions of Island Gypsy, and the more casual, laid back styles from 7th Street Surf Shop,” explains Gillian. “Then there’s B&B, the department store catering to all age groups and all styles.”
Ta-Dah is a must-see. With five locations within a two-block radius, why not Ta-Dah hop to find the perfect earrings and necklace to go with your holiday party dress.
If you’re looking for a hostess gift, or a little something for your coworker, there are dozens of delightful stores to browse through – Cricket Box, Scrim Discovery Needlepoint, Sting Ray, and P. Francis to name a few.
For the active person in your life, dive into the paddle board shop or surf shop, or run into the running store. Need to burn off some holiday stress? There’s a fitness center for that.   
And when you… just… can’t… shop… anymore, take a load off, relax, and grab a bite to eat at one of the dozens of restaurants or cafes. You could also stop by Bennie’s Bread and Italian Market for some authentic take-out.
… And once you’ve worked your way through the wonder of the day, rest up, Santa Claus comes to town to light the magical tree the next Friday! ‘Tis time to hop in your sleigh, but ‘ere you drive outta sight, wish “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”