The Shore Blog

All about the South Jersey Shore from Ocean City to Cape May

Stock the House Makes Vacations Stress-Free

Stock the House Makes Vacations Stress-Free

Ahhh…vacation!

You’ve just checked into your rental for the week and are just about to head to the beach when you remember your sister-in-law’s birthday is on Monday and she’s coming to visit. In all the chaos of packing and getting ready for vacation you forgot to get her a gift, much less have the ingredients to bake a cake. At this point you have a decision to make. Either you spend your entire day running around to gather what you need – or you can call Stock the House.

Stock the House is an on-demand concierge service that assists vacationers with any and all on-location travel needs. The company provides personalized services ranging from grocery shopping to coordinating a special celebration – and virtually everything in between.

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This innovative business was first imagined when co-founders Domenica and Jim Mastroianni were vacationing at the Jersey Shore just after having their second child. Although they were familiar with Seven Mile island after years of vacationing there, the couple still found themselves spending a lot of time trying to locate items they needed and doing online research for information such as restaurant reviews and rainy-day activities. Instead of enjoying time with their children, they found themselves tending to necessary errands, which left them feeling as if they needed a vacation from their vacation. They were ready to give up on vacation planning altogether when Domenica began wondering if there may be a way to alleviate the burden of inevitable errands that occur during vacations.

Family sitting on dock by lake

Perhaps there was an easier way for vacationers, especially those spending time in an unfamiliar place, to access the information, products and services they needed without spending a lot of time on the internet and running from place to place. This is especially important in a crowded, popular vacation destination such as the Jersey shore, where going to the store often means giving up a precious commodity – your parking space – and spending considerable amount of time in traffic. If you’ve ever shopped at a shore grocery store on a change-over Saturday, you know how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to find a parking spot, locate a cart, dodge the crowds and stand in line for an eternity – simply to buy a carton of milk for the week.

STH2And so the concept of Stock the House came to the Mastroiannis. Similar to hotels where concierges are on hand to assist vacationers with information, recommendations, personalized service and connection to local resources, the couple envisioned offering this service as well to vacationers at the Jersey shore. Due to the seasonal nature of the shore businesses, many shore hotels can’t afford to, or simply don’t, offer such services. Nor do rental homes.

To test their theory, the couple shared their vision with others and learned that it wasn’t just something that impacted their family – most people agreed that having a personalized service to assist vacationers would allow them to maximize time with family instead of spending it on errands. The couple went to work developing partnerships and connections with local southern Jersey shore business owners. Backed by a team of local vendors and service providers, Stock the House began operating in Avalon and Stone Harbor in the summer of 2017. The service was so wildly popular that, two years later, the company is now offering the same personalized, locally sourced services in other vacation destinations in the Northeast, including the entire Jersey coast, Vermont and the Adirondacks, with more locations coming soon.

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Calling upon their years of education and experience in business, sales, marketing and the law, the Mastroiannis built Stock the House around a unique business model that allows them to tap into the resources of the local community. Wanting to be able to meet every customer request, it was important that the company’s potential to serve customers was not limited by their own inventory or skills. Instead, they carefully selected local vendors who are subject matter experts and who provide exceptional service and high quality, affordable products. By tapping into these existing resources, Stock the House is providing customers with personalized service from reputable vendors while supporting local businesses, something that is at the very core of their company’s mission. Today, Stock the House has a network consisting of hundreds of vendors and providers.

STH1In addition to forging relationships with local businesses, Stock the House employs a dedicated team of concierges who do the shopping, running of errands and delivery. The team consists of highly experienced, professional, and hardworking individuals who take pride in their customer service. Every member of the Stock the House team is thoroughly screened and completes a training process before they serve clients, in order to ensure the highest standard of performance. In vetting their staff, the company seeks local residents who are immersed in the community and culture, have personal knowledge of available resources and who have access to a vast local network so that they can tap into the many resources vacationers may not know about or have the ability to access.

Domenica sees Stock the House as being in the business of making impossible things, possible. As parents themselves, the Mastroiannis understand how challenging it can be to vacation with young children, extended families, in-laws and even those well-intentioned friends who photo-bomb your vacation. That’s why she left a secure corporate job to take the chance on building this unique company – so that families like hers can enjoy the precious, fleeting time they have with one another before kids are grown and off on vacations of their own. The Mastroiannis work hard for their customers and strive to serve as good role models for their kids, teaching them the value of hard work and the importance of believing in yourself. If all goes well, perhaps Stock the House will be something their children, and maybe even grandchildren one day, will want to take over, as many generations of other shore business families have experienced.

STH10As the company has grown to cover regions well beyond the Jersey shore, they’ve developed multiple partnerships across many service locations, giving them the ability to pull from unique resources in various communities. This assures that if a product or service is not available in one region, Stock the House will draw upon its far-reaching resources to make sure the request is met and that no service or product request is insurmountable. Although the company operates in multiple states, they’ve developed standard processes across all locations. However, each client is given the unique attention and care through a direct connection with a local concierge, akin to having a personal assistant, making the experience for the client feel like a true luxury.

So, what can Stock the House do for you? Let’s begin with the basics: true to their name, they will stock your vacation home with anything you need, from groceries to linens, beach equipment to bikes. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, they will help coordinate your party. They will help you plan rainy day trips, find babysitters, make restaurant reservations, obtain tickets to local events and so much more. And if you’re too stressed from the traffic on the A.C. Expressway, they’ll even help you arrange an at-vacation-home massage session.

Currently, the most popular requests for services by vacationers are grocery delivery and hiring private chefs. For grocery delivery a concierge will coordinate not only the specific foods you’re requesting but will deliver at a time most convenient for you. Allergy issues or food preferences are no problem – your concierge will seek out exactly what it is you need. They will provide locally sourced fruits, vegetables and meats to assure freshness. If you wish to arrive to your vacation home with a fully stocked fridge, freezer and bar, they will make sure it’s done before you get there.

Domenica reports that requests for private chefs have skyrocketed over the last two years. This service alleviates the burden of having to grocery shop for items, leave the beach early to prepare a meal that satisfies all taste buds, and clean up the mess afterwards. Instead, families are able to designate what time they would like to eat and arrive from the beach or daytrip to a fully prepared, homecooked meal. This is especially helpful in reducing the stress of deciding who is cooking when multiple families vacation together, and allows everyone to enjoy a freshly prepared, restaurant-quality meal in the comfort of their vacation home. And the best part is that Stock the House will clean up afterwards so your family can head to the boardwalk, play board games or just sit on the deck and talk.

STH15They also coordinate special events. Last year, Stock the House coordinated and managed a catered lunch party on the beach, including bento boxes of prepared lunches, special meal combinations for the kids, fresh juices, a tent, and decorations – and the family didn’t have to worry about a single detail. They’ve also coordinated many milestone parties such as family reunions, graduations, and anniversaries, where they will order cakes, arrange for food and drinks, shop for presents, set up and break down the event. Their most unique request was for a family who wanted to surprise their six-year old daughter after a recent tragedy. In true Disney style, Stock the House decorated their vacation house in a unicorn theme, complete with a glitter trail that led to a gift and a note from the unicorn fairy with word of encouragement. Upon seeing the little girl’s excitement over her special surprise, the staff at Stock the House knew they had made magic happen.

Stock the House takes the entire planning and managing experience to a new level, which is something that hasn’t previously been available on this scale at the shore. Domenica says the best part about the services they offer is the outpouring of gratitude and compliments they receive after an event or a service is provided. She loves hearing how the families are able to relax and truly enjoy themselves, something she wishes she could have done on that fateful vacation where Stock the House was first conceived.

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Stock the House provides a fee structure that makes sense for any family staying along the Jersey shore. The first level of service is ala cart – you decide what service you would like Stock the House to provide and pay a 20% fee over the cost of the service or product, plus a $50 delivery fee. The best thing about the ala cart service is that there is no menu – you decide what you may need to make your vacation more enjoyable and they’ll do it for you, even if it is a once-and-done service.

The next option is the Reserve Program, for clients who want more flexibility. This service provides you with a concierge “on-demand”, for up to 10 hours during the course of your stay, for a flat-rate fee of $500. Whether it’s delivery of fresh coffee and donuts in the morning, doing laundry, or coordinating a special meal or night out, this level of service provides you with ongoing support and options. For an entire season, you can use the Reserve+ Program, which provides 100 hours of on-demand concierge support for the cost of $5000.

Domenica admits that offering such a wide range of services to vacationers can be challenging, but they have yet to tackle a request they were unable to fulfill. This is what makes Stock the House so unique – not only are they able to tap into the expertise of local vendors – themselves small businesses who aim to serve vacationers – but because of their team of concierges and ambassadors, they are able to meet a wide variety of vacationers’ needs. While there are other businesses that attend to each of those specific needs a traveler may have, no other service offers the full range of customized services like Stock the House.

With each client contact, the company strives to achieve its mission, which is “to make traveling stress-free by delivering on-demand premium services, managing errands, and creating unique experiences for weekend trips and family vacations”. Their vision is a future where vacationer’s to-do lists only include one item: call Stock the House.

To learn more about Stock the House, you can visit their website at www.stockthehouse.com or find them on Facebook at “Stock the House” and Instagram @stock_the_house.

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