Aside from the gumption that the beach seems to inspire, there are tangible benefits to starting a business out on the peninsula. “Its proximity to the city is huge. That and the fact that our summer customer base is largely made up of the 4 million–plus visitors who come to enjoy our beaches,” explains Abra Boero, owner of clothing brand and concept shop Off Season. “We have built-in foot traffic that is hard to simulate anywhere else. Rents are still affordable, press is buzzy. We also have a growing local community of forward-thinking individuals who understand the importance of shopping small.”
And while the summer is no doubt a busy time for Rockaway business owners, there’s a benefit to winters on the beach as well. Jenny Wichman, owner of Yew Yew Shop, a high-design line of smoking accessories (and a platform for destigmatizing cannabis), finds the insulation of winter motivating. “I think part of what is so helpful about building a company in Rockaway is the level of isolation. You’re not in the middle of the city, so you don’t have a ton of distractions. Also, in the winter there really isn’t much else to do besides buckle down and focus on your company. Then in the summer, enjoy the sun and let your hard work from the winter pay off.”
Sarah Trogdon, owner of Goldie’s Natural Beauty, also can’t ignore the call of the water. “Well, for me, from June to October the respite of the ocean is the greatest benefit of starting a business in Rockaway.” Goldie’s, like many other local products, is produced in Rockaway but does not have its own brick-and-mortar. Thanks to the support from the community, many retailers in the area carry products from the Goldie’s line, including Off Season and Zingara Vintage, both female owned.