When Erin Visalli first emailed me about Relax Concierge, I couldn’t wrap my head around what it was she was doing.
A concierge for the Jersey Shore? What would she do, carry your boogie board and beach chairs onto the sand for you? Order Sam’s Pizza Palace pies for you?
But I soon learned that her light bulb idea was a genius one, and a boon to families who rent a Jersey Shore house for a week or two in the summer.
“My family’s been vacationing at the Shore for years. I was the oldest one of four, so I was always my mom’s helper,” says Visalli. “I would watch my mom work to get everything ready to go on vacation: stripping beds, packing cars, cooking. And then she’d get to the Shore to only work harder to set the house up so we could be on vacation. It wasn’t really a vacation for my mom.”
Then, when Visalli started spending time at her in-law’s beach house in Ocean City, she watched families roll in every summer Saturday and clog the aisles of the one supermarket in town and realized her mom wasn’t the only one who lost part of her vacation. “It was everybody coming onto the island,” she said.
So in June 2010, Visalli quit her business consulting job and set up Relax Concierge, providing everything from Egyptian cotton linens, beach chairs, bath and beach towels, umbrellas, outdoor games, even video game systems and DVD players, to Shore vacationers. She also offered a grocery shopping service.
She started getting calls the day after the website launched. “I built the inventory as orders would come in,” she said.
For the summer of 2011, she rented a storage space in Ocean City, and this year, she opened a storefront shop on Asbury Avenue in the same town.
Here’s how it works: you go to relaxconcierge.com and browse the inventory, selecting what you need for the week. Then Visalli or one of her helpers will drop off a clear plastic box on the porch of your rental with everything you’ve rented for the week or – for an additional fee – they will go inside the home and make the beds and prep the space for you. Then, at the end of the week, you put everything back in the box, and Visalli picks it up from the porch so you can get in your car and go (she jokes that she was in great shape last summer from hoisting boxes up and down flights of stairs).
The only thing they won’t do is cleaning, but she’ll have recommendations for you of who to hire.
Visalli services towns up and down the 142 miles of the Jersey Shore – she probably knows the Garden State Parkway better than anyone else I know. She also makes great recommendations for places to eat in every shore town – her suggestion for Toast in Asbury Park for a business lunch yesterday was spot on.
She’s also considering expanding her services this summer to include baby gear and maybe a metal detector. Later in the summer, we’re going to borrow her neighbor’s and give it a whirl to see if it’ll be worth the buy for her customers.
“We offer things that will make your vacation easier,” she said. And help parents get onto the beach sooner to start their Jersey Shore vacations.