BEACH HAVEN WEST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey couple with mounting bills and limited income due to COVID-19 decided to get creative.
CBS2’s Tara Jakeway explains how they turned a hobby into a flourishing business that brightens up their beach community.
Rebecca Lichtenthal lives in Beach Haven West with her boyfriend Justin Jacoby. The young couple worried they’d lose their home when she lost her source of income.
“When the daycare closed, I was home, so at first I was hanging out watching Netflix,” Lichtenthal said.
While surgical tech Jacoby went to battle the pandemic daily at Jersey Shore Medical Center.
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That’s when she spotted an old surfboard, picked up paintbrushes and BJ Surf Signs was born.
The couple created colorful designs for their tiki bar, then for neighbors. A couple of celebrities put in requests for personalized boards. More than 80 orders have come in for drop off and curbside pickup.
“Just curbside. I mean, most of the boards are six feet long so it works out, we’re at least six feet apart,” Jacoby said.
Precaution is always a priority for Jacoby.
“I shower at work then I shower when I get home, leave my clothes at the door,” he said.
A few doors down is Shore Fire Grill, owned by Samantha Kohlheim.
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“It’s actually my husband’s business. He passed away back in August in a car accident, and this has always been his passion, so I’m trying to bring some more fun things into the restaurant that he would’ve loved,” said Kohlheim.
Like a custom board from BJ Surf Signs. For the family of three, the new addition made a dark time just a little bit brighter. The boards breathe new life into some local shops, while putting cash in the pockets of others. Wave Hog surf shop sells them old boards that customers have traded in for newer models.
“These boards sometimes end up in a surfing graveyard and fill landfills,” Jacoby said.
The couple hopes their story will inspire others. They say while the world is on pause, it may be a great time to start something new.