Towns and cities throughout the state are encouraging residents to shop local this holiday season, pointing out that small businesses make up about 98 percent of the state's employers. Plus, if you've procrastinated, your local shop is just around the corner.
A small business is considered a business with less than 500 employees. According to the Maryland Small Business Association, there were 526,663 small businesses in the state in 2008.
As the holidays approached this year, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, urged Marylanders to shop at local, independently owned businesses on the nation’s second annual “Small Business Saturday.”
The newly designated shopping day came the Saturday after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday, i.e. the heaviest shopping weekend of the year.
Cardin cosponsored a resolution (S. Res. 320) to officially designate Small Business Saturday.
“Small businesses are the driving force behind job creation in America, but they need our support to keep our economy moving,” said Cardin in a news release. "We can all play a part in growing America’s economy by giving small businesses on Main Street a helping hand.”
Local communities are also working to do their part in supporting small businesses and locally owned shops.
The city of Westminster was strategic in planning its holiday events this year in an effort to drive traffic to Main Street. The city's annual holiday electric parade, Christmas tree lighting and first Santa visit were held the evening of Small Business Saturday with hopes that people would spend the day shopping and eating at small, locally owned businesses.
Additionally, the city's economic development department created "Shopopoly," a game requiring players to at least visit (and hopefully shop) all of the Main Street shops to earn game pieces. Those who collected enough game pieces were entered into a drawing for gift certificates and prizes.
"Local small businesses are the heart and soul of the community. They define the town you live in," said Stan Ruchlewicz, Westminster's Administrator of Economic Development. "They are unique in appearance, personality and products."
Ruchlewicz said the community benefits financially when residents support local businesses.
"The importance of shopping/supporting “Local” (i.e., independently-owned & created, not bought franchises) small business is that more of the money you spend with them stays in the community and is not shipped off to the corporate headquarters to disburse as profits to shareholders," Ruchlewicz said. "Approximately 60 cents of every dollar you spend at a local small business stays local while only about 25 cents does when you shop at a franchise or chain store."
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development reports that as of 2010, Carroll County had 4,602 small businesses, 3,593 of which have fewer than 10 employees.