We're locals. We go to the beach, not "down the Shore." We sleep better with sand in our sheets. We hate bennies. Right?

For the Jersey Shore in the summer of 2013, the three worst words in the English language are "bennies go home."

You've seen it on bumper stickers and t-shirts. You've undoubtedly heard it yelled in traffic. It's safe to say you've thought it occasionally and you've probably muttered it under your breath, but this year it simply does not apply.

Last fall, an unwelcome guest by the name of Sandy tore through coastal New Jersey and things haven't been the same since. Our friends and neighbors lost their homes, our favorite businesses were badly damaged or destroyed. Remember the darkness? Remember the cold silence? Remember the gas rationing and the food shortages? Life as we knew it came to a screeching halt.

In the months that followed we've seen the community and the nation come together in unprecedented fashion. First, we helped provide food and shelter for those in need. Then we helped to rebuild what was lost. We had concerts, we collected goods, we raised funds and we helped Restore the Shore. We know that it's a hard road back and that we've still got a long way to go, but we're certainly on our way.

With the arrival of Memorial Day Weekend, we usher in what is going to become a very important tourism season for our area. The summer of 2013 will prove pivotal for the Jersey Shore's continued recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

The small business community is an integral part of the Jersey Shore's unique allure and the truth of the matter is that for many small business owners Sandy is still an open wound.

Aside from the massive expense of rebuilding damaged property and replacing lost equipment or inventory, Shore businesses who were shuttered due to Sandy need a successful summer to make up for lost revenue. A big tourist season and an influx of tourism dollars are a key element of the restoration and revitalization effort.

With that said, we'd like to offer up three pieces of advice for locals when navigating the Jersey Shore this summer season:

Be a gracious host.

This is your home. Take pride in it by being welcoming to guests. People who haven't been back since the storm will undoubtedly have questions. Help them out. That favorite restaurant or cafe that has always been a well-kept local secret? Let a tourist know about it. The business owner will appreciate it.

Have some patience.

There's still a lot of construction happening on local roads and parking spaces might be at a premium. Take a deep breath, relax and remember that it's only temporary.

Spend money locally.

This one is easy. No plans for dinner tonight? Head to a locally-owned and operated place that was affected badly by Sandy. Need to buy anything at all? Support a local business in the process.

[Tom Dunphy is the Managing Editor of RestoretheShore.com and a lifelong resident of the Jersey Shore. He lives with his wife in Bradley Beach.]

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