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'Jersey Shore' Boss: Guys Worked Harder Than the Girls
Here's the 'Situation': A key player in the MTV hit fills us in on what it takes to put the show’s stars to work. By Suzanne Zionts

Jersey Shore Store

Thanks to the love-it-or-hate-it MTV special, the Jersey Shore has a wide-spread reputation for fist pumping, fake tanning, all-night partying, big hair and protein shakes. Although there is a party atmosphere in the beach town of Seaside Heights, NJ -- where the show’s first season kicked off -- small business owners there say it’s not all fun and games at the shore.

FOXBusiness.com got the skinny from Danny Merk, the owner of The Shore Store, a tee-shirt shop where the original cast of The Jersey Shore on MTV worked. Merk also owns the house where the cast lived for the summer.

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Jersey Shore Store

FOXBusiness.com: What are some unknown truths about doing business down the shore?

Merk: We work non-stop. There is only a little time to make money in Seaside, so you have to work a lot of hours because it isn’t going to happen by itself. Right now, we only have one person employed, but when [summer] season comes around, we have 3 to 4 people. There is a constant flow in the summer. It is a very fun job. You’re on the beach. Everyone is in a good mood.

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Jersey Shore Store

FOXBusiness.com: How many years have you been in business?

Merk: We opened the store in 1998. MTV came there in 1998 and then the next year, Adrenaline and Lucky’s Arcade opened so we have formed an anchor of the north end so people come down there … MTV came back in 2006 and that gave us another big shot. We opened up a beautiful beach house and there used to be concerts. Pink had a concert on the beach. Each year the city has gotten better and better, but hopefully this year will be … the best year. The show … got some really good ratings, and it is busier right now because of the show.

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Jersey Shore Store

FOXBusiness.com: In what ways did your business feel the recession?

Merk: I would say it was a little slower [last summer], but last year it [also] rained a lot. Our recession is the weather. … we rely on the weather. It is not like people are buying cars. People are buying $15-$20 tee shirts. We are not [selling] high-ticket items. We work on volume.

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Jersey Shore Store

FOXBusiness.com: What was it like working with the cast? Are they coming back to work for you next season?

Merk: I have no idea about them working for me this season. They were average kids who worked a couple hours a day and no one knew who they were [when the show began]. We were told to tell people we were filming a documentary. Now, the kids are superstars. 

The guys were better workers than the girls. Vinnie, Pauly D. and Ronnie tried hard. Mike only tried if I was watching him. The girls didn’t care that much. J-Wow tried. MTV paid for them to work at the store.

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Jersey Shore Store

FOXBusiness.com: What did you see in terms of numbers, your bottom line? What are you expecting this summer in terms of business?

Merk: Honestly, I didn’t think the show was going to be popular, but it became a phenomenon. I … never open in April [but did this year], so we have to say that my employees want to work there because people are already asking for The Shore Store. We had really good weather at the beginning ... This year is so much better than last year because the advertising is priceless. People in Las Vegas were saying they want to go to the Jersey Shore and fist pump. I think we are going to have one of the best years ever.

FOXBusiness.com: How were you chosen by MTV?

Merk: The house is pretty cool. It has decks everywhere. When my brother and I were building it, we thought this is such a “Real World” house. Also, when MTV was down here in 2006, [the crew and celebrities for different shows] used to wait in our backyard before going on stage.

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Jersey Shore Store

FOXBusiness.com: Do you own any other shops/businesses?

Merk: My family has different stores. We have another store in Seaside and we have a couple of stores in Daytona Beach, FL. They are all gift shops. This is the way we earn a living. It is not lots of money. It is a lot of hard work but also a very relaxing job.

FOXBusiness.com: What is your advice for other small business owners?

Merk: Small businesses are run on blood, sweat and tears. That is the way to survive, especially with this economy. You just have to work very hard. Try and promote yourself. This promotion was a real gift.

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'Jersey Shore' Boss: Guys Worked Harder Than the Girls

Here's the 'Situation': A key player in the MTV hit fills us in on what it takes to put the show’s stars to work. By Suzanne Zionts

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