Girls Weekend in O.C. Goes “Virtual” Amid Pandemic

first_imgOrganizers of Girls Weekend think outside the box with an online shopping spree for 2020. (Image courtesy Virtual Girls Weekend Facebook page) By MADDY VITALEWhen Girls Weekend in Ocean City was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Candice Kolins, owner of Cruise Control Gear in Stainton’s Gallery of Shops, said although she was sad, she understood the importance of social distancing and staying safe and healthy.But Caitlin Quirk, vice president of the Downtown Merchants Association and founder and owner of Bowfish Kids, came up with the idea to help save the mega-shopping extravaganza weekend through a virtual experience.“Virtual Girls Weekend” runs from Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5.Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that, while it is much different than the traditional way to celebrate Girls Weekend, it could still be an enjoyable and beneficial experience.“During these difficult times our businesses need to stay connected with their customers,” Gillian said. “Ocean City’s merchants need all the support we can give them right now.”When Kolins and her sister and co-owner of Cruise Control Gear, Kristen Vogelbacher, were asked if they would be interested in joining the event, they were ecstatic.Kolins and Vogelbacher will join about 16 other merchants in the downtown — virtually speaking, of course — to offer discounts, sales, specials and some other ways to stand together as a business community, doing what they can in an unprecedented time in history.Cruise Control Gear active wear business partners and sisters, Candice Kolins, left, and Kristen Vogelbacher, shown here attending the Chamber of Commerce’s “Welcome Night” in October, say that the “Virtual Girls Weekend” will help Ocean City’s businesses.Kolins noted, “We have to think of creative ways to reach our market and we think this is a great way by utilizing social media. I am happy to support the other businesses and the community.”Some of the proceeds of Cruise Control Gear purchases will go to OCNJ CARE, a nonprofit organization formed by Ocean City volunteers and community members in cooperation with the city and the Chamber that will help residents affected by COVID-19.All people have to do is visit the shop’s website at and at checkout use the coupon code ccgcares25. For more information on OCNJ CARE visit“We are really excited to give back during this time,” Kolins said. “We have to all stick together, be united and get through this and hopefully be stronger than ever.”That is exactly why, Quirk said, she came up with the idea for the Virtual Girls Weekend.“After dealing with the shock of having to close my business due to COVID-19, it took me a bit to adjust to our new reality, but I eventually saw the opportunity to save Girls Weekend by making it virtual,” Quirk said.She continued, “We’ve been getting the word out about the virtual event and what a great opportunity it is to help support all of these small businesses that are seriously struggling right now.”Year after year, Girls Weekend brings in thousands of friends and families to enjoy downtown shops and boutiques, eateries, and major sales. The weekend traditionally kicks off with a fashion show, but the event also had to be canceled this year.For more information about “Virtual Girls Weekend,” visit, Control Gear promotes the virtual experience. (Courtesy Candice Kolins)last_img

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