A little less to carry

While the details are still being finalized, the city has agreed to work with Beach Comforts in a one-year trial. “It’s a service that people have been questioning in Long Beach for quite some time,” said City Councilman Lenny Remo. “If it works, it’s huge. If it doesn’t work, we can certainly say we’ve tried and it wasn’t successful.”
Regardless of the outcome, the city will not spend any money on the venture, according to Assistant City Manager Lisa Hirsch. “There is no initial outlay by the city,” she said. “[Beach Comforts is] going to handle all the upfront expenses. We just take a portion of the bottom line.”
Beach Comforts, which is a joint venture between Wendy Parr of Parr Ventures and Brian Berkery of Creative Vibe — two Long Beach businesses — will set up four locations along the boardwalk. Beach Comforts employees will bring the rented equipment to renters’ spots on the beach.
“We wanted to make it look like they just showed up at a high-end resort,” Berkery said of the service.
Beach Comforts will sell advertising on the umbrellas and offer sponsorships to local businesses. The city will get a percentage of the revenues from the rentals, advertising and sponsorships. The advertising, according to Remo, will exclude alcohol, tobacco and anything deemed lewd or crude.
According to the agenda of the Jan. 6 City Council meeting, the city will receive 75 percent of the gross rental revenue, minus Beach Comforts’ insurance fees and business costs, and 50 percent of the advertising and sponsorship revenue. Both City Manager Charles Theofan and Berkery said, however, that these percentages have not been finalized. “They city gets a significant percentage of the profits,” Berkery said.
Berkery is no stranger to the city: His company has provided the advertising for the Long Beach buses and shelters since October 2007, when he pitched his services to the city after meeting a member of the Transportation Department at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. “It was a dead issue until [Berkery] approached us,” Theofan said of the city’s attempts to advertise on its buses. “Lo and behold, little did we know that it could be as lucrative as it is.”
Hirsch estimated that the city receives between $12,000 and $20,000 each quarter from bus advertising. The pricing structure for the beach rentals would be the same as the buses.
Parr, meanwhile, is responsible for the street lamp banners that line the boardwalk and Park Avenue. She has been working with the city for two years.
“I think it’s going to be interesting to see because so many of Long Beach’s residents love and use the beach, and obviously have their own chairs and umbrellas,” said Remo. “But we do get a tremendous amount of day-trippers and people who use the beach on weekends who aren’t residents.”
“We feel like all the people coming off the Long Island Rail Road will be tremendous because they don’t have to take their chairs and umbrellas from Manhattan and all points east,” said Berkery.
Comments about this story? JKellard@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 213.