Sister Susie sells seashells at the Seashore: Not so simple for sister Susie

The holiday season is upon us, and shoppers are out there looking for bargains. Also, business owners are looking to make some money in a very tough economy. And so, sister Susie from Sussex Mills in Sussex County may want to share in some holiday cash.

Let’s just say sister Susie was going to sell seashells at the seashore — in New Jersey. Here is what she might have to go through in the Garden State, to sell seashells at our seashore:

* She'd have to make sure her location in the seashore town was zoned for commercial sales. Also, if her plans include selecting seashells from the Jersey Shore, she would probably have to buy a day pass for each shore town she gathers in, unless the legislature changes the law and sets the shore free.

* Sister Susie will have to pay sales tax on each seashell sale, and withhold Social Security taxes from any employees.

* Her business would have to be registered with the Secretary of State’s office as well as the Division of Consumer Affairs. Maybe she should join the Chamber of Commerce of Ocean County or the town of Cape May.

* If she were just selling seashells at the seashore for the summer, perhaps a vendor’s license would be necessary.

* She would have to make sure the seashells were not from a species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as administered by the Office of Protected Resources.

* If she is your sister, and you have any decision-making power over who exactly gets the rights to sell seashells at the seashore, you and she both would be subject to the New Jersey Conflict of Interest law.

* But, if sister Susie is a Sister at a local church, she may be exempt from certain zoning and tax regulations. Also, she may be permitted to distribute for donations for her church the seashells. And her right to distribute seashells might very well be protected by the First Amendment under religious grounds.

* She might also want to have a website and she would have to register with one of the domain registry companies. Also, she might want to trademark “Sister Susie’s Seashells”™ with the United States Patent and Trademark office.

* If the seashells are from the ocean in international waters, there might be some intercontinental environmental treaties that may have to be followed regarding international fishing rights. Also, she might want to make sure that union seashell gatherers gather the seashells, too.

If any of the above is not followed, sister Susie might be suspended from selling seashells at the seashore. Or sister Susie might have to sue to sell seashells at the seashore.

Anyway, all of this is much easier for Susie than for her sister-in-law Betty Botter or brother-in-law Peter Piper.

It seems that Betty Botter bought a bit of bitter butter that made her batter bitter — and now she’s in trouble with the Better Business Bureau.

And her brother-in-law, Peter Piper, who picked a peck of pickled peppers. Seems it was not exactly a "peck", and now he's in trouble with the New Jersey Weights and Measures.


Joey Novick is an attorney, professional stand-up comedian, professional keynote speaker, and a former 12 year Councilman in Flemington, NJ. From 1996-2000, he served as the County Chair of the Hunterdon County Democratic Committee. As a stand-up comedian and improv actor, Joey has appeared on MTV, Comedy Central, Rascal's Comedy Hour and One Life to Live, and most recently, with "Laughing Liberally". He has opened in concert and at comedy club dates for such comedy notables as Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Klein, Lewis Black, Rosie O'Donnell and Ray Romano. He is currently developing a one-man show about life, laughter and local government in the Garden State, tentatively entitled, "Trentoon".

His blog,, has been informing NJ's political insiders for almost "two-thirds of a fiftieth of a century," and has recognized by Campaigns & Elections and SNJ Business People. The New York Times, AP Newswire, Washington Post, Newark Star-Ledger, ABC News and National Public Radio have all been kind enough to mention his work in comedy and politics every now and then. Joey appears monthly on News-12's "Power & Politics", sharing his keen insights on NJ's elected officials, and has chaired a panel on political humor for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities every year since 1995. He has taken his political humor on the road across the nation, appearing at state municipal league conferences in New York, Maine, Connecticut, Nevada, West Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, Kentucky and Rhode Island; as well as at the National League of Cities Conference. His mother, Pearl, lives in Florida, plays canasta almost every day, and is very glad Joey visits her on a regular basis. Sister Susie sells seashells at the Seashore: Not so simple for sister Susie