Boardwalk shops have table sales in the fall to bring in more business. By MADDY VITALEDowntown Ocean City and the Boardwalk offered visitors and residents a lot to browse and plenty of deals on the first day of the merchant table sales Saturday.The sale, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and also Sunday, extends to the following weekend from Oct. 9 through Oct. 12.People looked through shoes, shirts and shore memorabilia displayed on tables and clothing racks outside the storefronts from Sixth Street to 14th Street along Asbury Avenue and the Boardwalk.Sisters Lana Delfera, of South Chester County, Pa., and Gina Hookey, of Princeton, were spending the weekend at Delfera’s second home in Ocean City.By noon, they already had bags filled with goodies. They each bought snowman ornaments that light up for their grandchildren and clothing.Shoppers fill the downtown, giving local merchants a boost amid the pandemic.The sisters found a bench on Asbury Avenue to sit down and peruse a menu for their lunch break. “Every year we come down for the Fall Block Party. We grew up coming here,” Delfera explained. “The whole family comes down to connect. It is like a breath of fresh air. It is so relaxing here.”Hookey agreed. “We have always had our family vacations here, no matter what the season. We have had the best times here. It is so rich with memories,” she said.The shopping event typically gives customers a glimpse at what is to come with the popular Fall Block Party, which is normally the second week of October. However, with COVID-19, the block party, which also features vendors and packs a crowd of thousands each year, was canceled per social distancing guidelines.Kristin Melnick, of Pennsylvania, tests out some flavored butter.For Kristin Melnick, of Pennsylvania, a stop by Stainton’s Gallery of Shops in the downtown was the perfect way to test out a sweet treat to begin a day of shopping.Out of several flavors of homemade butter she chose one that seemed appropriate for the month of October – pumpkin butter.Melnick, a chef, works as director of nutrition for a long-term care facility.She remarked that the merchant table sales brought gave some feeling of normalcy amid the pandemic.“I think it is great that we are all trying to get back to the new normal,” Melnick noted. “It has definitely been an unusual year.”While families filled Asbury Avenue to stroll and check out the wares of local shop keepers, others headed to the Boardwalk to look for some sales that came with a view of the ocean.Boardwalk merchant tables featured some eye-catching glittery jewelry, toys, stacks of shoes and T-shirts galore.Tricia and Mike Mullarkey, of Cherry Hill, said they were pleased to see there was such a big sale. Tricia and Mike Mullarkey, of Cherry Hill, find some deals after their morning bike ride.The couple was not aware of the table sales until they drove down to the shore for the day.“It was a coincidence,” Tricia said.“We lucked out,” Mike added. “Our plan was to ride our bikes on the Boardwalk.”After their bike ride, the Mullarkeys decided to do some shopping.They each made purchases of shore favorites – fudge and popcorn.“I see a shirt over here that I want with a dog on it,” Tricia said, as she pointed to a T-shirt on a display. “I am definitely going to buy it.”Boardwalk strollers, bikers and shoppers take advantage of a warm October day.