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November 21, 2018 12:35 am

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City Takeover Of Oval Beach Concession Stand Pays Off With $24,000 Net Profit

      A move last year by  Saugatuck city officials to take over the Oval Beach concession stand has netted the city a very pleasant surprise.

     “In previous fiscal years we lost money; this year we made $24,000 (net total),” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier told The Local Observer.

     “There is a key component to this success: beach manager Linda Bultman,” noted Harrier. “She is the right employee to handle the task.” Bultman works with the Saugatuck Department of Public Works during the off-season.

     In preparation for this year’s summer season, Harrier said he will be presenting city council members at a workshop sometime in February with details about last year’s decision to take over the concession stand business - its implications, possible improvements, the future and so on.

     The $24,000 generated this year comes in just shy of last year’s $28,900 that council approved for the purchase of a twin-twist soft serve ice cream maker, a slush machine, a popcorn machine, a hotdog grill and a “microwave warmer.”

     Nevertheless, city officials remain confident the investment was one that will keep giving. The expenditure for the equipment was made possible thanks to a bequest to the city by the late Sky Hempy.

     The city plunged into running the commercial operation following the announcement from contractor Sand Witches of Douglas that it did not want to renew its three-year agreement with the city.

     “What we came to find out in our market research with visitors and residents is that beachgoers want reasonably priced ‘concession’ food. It is simple, we are not going to have gourmet food. It’s hot dogs, ice cream, slushies and pretzels. Stuff you consume at a baseball game,” Harrier said.

     He noted Tuesday the concession opportunity was ripe for the city takeover. 

     “It was definitely became more feasible for us; we had established the proper infrastructure in place, the right money collection system and the right internal controls that we required at the beach.”

     The license with Sand Witches generated $3,000 annually for the city, but expenses equal to that amount meant the city made zero or actually went negative in years pasts.

         Last season the concession service ran longer than it did with the contractor; instead of closing at 6 or 7 p.m. it operated until the beach closed.


City Takeover Of Oval Beach Concession Stand Pays Off With $24,000 Net Profit

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