Comptroller Franchot promotes Shop Maryland for the Holidays

MD-Comptroller shops local_Poinsettia 3x

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Buying a poinsettia at the Simmons Center Market.

CAMBRIDGE — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Cambridge for his Shop Maryland for the Holidays tour, promoting the value of shopping local to a region’s economy. He was joined on the tour by Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

Also joining in on the tour was Senator Addie Eckardt, County Councilman Don Satterfield, Cambridge City Commissioners Gage Thomas and Frank Cooke, Bill Christopher, executive director of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce; and Brandon Hesson and Tom Hutchinson of Cambridge Main Street.

The tour started out at the Wine Bar on Race Street, and then the entourage worked its way down Race and Poplar streets, visiting Craig’s Drug Store, The Shops at Magnolia Grove and Night Kitchen Coffee, Realerevival Brewing, Butterfly Boutique, and Simmons Center Market.

The purpose of the Shop Maryland for the Holidays tour is to promote shopping in local stores rather than at online retailers. Doing so will help keep Maryland taxpayer dollars in the state and help support the 500,000 Marylanders who work in retail stores.

In the Wine Bar, Comptroller Franchot Shopped for wine — and especially chocolate — with his wife Anne. He quipped to the crowd, “They say you don’t have to have a glass of wine to enjoy yourself, but why take a chance?”

Comptroller Franchot chatted with Wine Bar owner Carol Ruark about local business, and Ms. Ruark is optimistic about the future for retailers in Cambridge. “Things are good. Cambridge is moving along,” she said.

“Our data shows that 70 cents of every dollar spent in a store like this stays in the county,” said Comptroller Franchot. “People think about that, and they change their habits. We have wonderful citizens in Maryland, and they want to help out, help each other.”

The Comptroller said that keeping Maryland retail dollars in the state is the best thing we could do to help repair the state’s economic situation.

“We’re a long way from where we used to be,” said Mr. Franchot. “(We were) way out in front of the country — we were always higher than the national employment figures, always more jobs, higher wages, and now we’re lagging behind. I’m optimistic that we’ll do much better in the future. We’re predicting between two and three percent growth (for 2016), if we get that I’m happy. It used to be four or five percent, every year, so we’ve got a ways to go.”

Comptroller Franchot next visited Craig’s Drug Store, a Cambridge pharmacy that has been in local operation for 148 years. He presented one of his Comptroller Medallions to Karen Kelly, wife of owner Chuck Kelly, who received a William Donald Shafer Award in 2013. He joked that the medallion was for “putting up with her husband” for so many years, and congratulated them both on their success.

Next was a stop at Night Kitchen Coffee, and the Shops at Magnolia Grove, who share a storefront at 410 Race St. There he talked to Night Kitchen owner Taylor Hale about his premium coffee, which is roasted right in Cambridge, and sampled some of the coffees.

Next was a quick visit to RAR Brewery, and also to the Butterfly Boutique, Poplar Street’s newest retail shop. The tour finished up at Simmons Center Market, where Comptroller Franchot visited with County Council President Ricky Travers and family, and purchased a poinsettia to carry back to Annapolis.

“Shopping local is the best thing for a community,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “It keeps revenue in the community, it brings jobs, it brings so much to a community.”

The tour illustrated that things aren’t always as bleak as they seem. Cambridge has a number of boarded-up storefronts, but there is a lively business going on otherwise. And it’s hard to miss the construction going on in town, where new businesses are being created.

“If one business is successful, someone else wants to be part of that success,” said County Councilman Don Satterfield, “and it begins to grow. As it grows, we all become successful.”

“I would say come to Cambridge, go down the street and if you don’t see all the people, open the doors, because mostly they’re inside, shopping!” said Senator Addie Eckardt, about addressing folks from out of town. “and on a good night, they’re overflowing onto the streets. And we have construction going on, up and down the street, with shops and restaurants going in, so we’re really excited. Thank you very much to the comptroller for working together with the governor to improve our local economies.”

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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