WASHINGTON — The crowd of people kept building throughout the day along Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, which is still reeling from flooding earlier this summer. For the businesses trying to hang on, Small Business Saturday offered a crucial test ahead of a very uncertain future.
“They really need to realize how much difference it makes to this town’s revival,” said Sally Tenant, who just reopened her “Discoveries” shop on Main Street. “This is the community that your dollar will make the most difference.”
For 38 years her store was across the street from where it is now, but her building still hasn’t been cleared to reopen after the flooding earlier this year.
“I cannot reopen in my spot right now, or maybe ever,” Tenant admitted.
Tenant’s building is one of 10 that was slated for demolition under a plan put forth by outgoing County Executive Allan Kittleman. But after he lost his bid for re-election, those plans are in limbo now.
But shop owners and customers are still hopeful despite the uncertainty.
“That’s what we’re here for,” said Katherine Sabotka. “We’re here to support the small shops and help them bounce back.”
While she pushed a stroller, her husband had a bag filled with clothing and Christmas ornaments they just bought this morning.
“It’s still a little sad. It’s still a little tough watching everybody come back,” Sabotka said. “But it’s really nice to see Ellicott City bouncing back. It’s really nice to see that people are open and shops are coming back in and that new shops are coming.”
One of those brand-new shops is Jaxon Edwin.
“This is our first Small Business Saturday,” said Madison Jackson, who was working in the coffee shop on the second floor. “We have a boutique downstairs; we have a café on the second floor … and then we have a high-end barbershop upstairs where we also have a bourbon and whiskey bar.”
The café on the second floor is part of an effort to fill in a gap left by the closure of Bean Hollow, which was a popular coffee shop further down Main Street hit hard by the second flood.
The manager there, Sarah, is now helping to run Jaxon Edwin, and that was part of the reason Larry and Pam Wilt were headed there this morning. Bean Hollow was their daughter’s shop, and while that store may not be coming back, they also know it’s up to people like them to help bring clarity to whatever uncertain future the town has.
“If people aren’t coming down here, it will disappear,” said Pam. “It’s going to change anyway. But I’d like some of it to still exist.”