Franchot tours small businesses, promotes shopping local
La Plata stop highlighted importance of supporting local economy
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) is encouraging Maryland residents to continue shopping at small, local businesses rather than shopping online as a way for residents to support the businesses that strengthen the community.
Franchot began a walking tour of La Plata Friday by visiting local businesses, buying items from each and walking away with Christmas gifts for his family. He bought two paintings
from Shop 53 Custom Tattoo & Art Studio; a stuffed Democratic donkey at House Boutique; a pair of drumsticks at Island Music Company; gloves at The Little Cor- ner Shoppe; books about jewelry at Centerpiece Boutique and Design, as well as a few snack items and a Maryland Independent newspaper from Martin’s Service station.
“It’s very uplifting for me to go and salute the small businesses because it’s very hard to be as successful as they are,” Franchot said. “I applaud everybody in the Charles County region and tell them to come to La Pla- ta and visit the stores I visited, and all the other stores. Great products, great service and it really helps the economy because the money stays
in Maryland and it’s used to employ our friends and neighbors.”
La Plata Mayor Roy G. Hale said Franchot has visited the town several times before, but for him to actually visit many of the small businesses and to express his position on how important small busi- ness is to the community and the state is truly out- standing.
The comptroller’s tour began at Shop 53 Cus- tom Tattoo & Art Studio, where co-owners Shan- non Wang and Mona Wise were able to show- case many of their gallery pieces, including a project Wang is working on that will represent the town’s love for music and the arts. The 7-foot mural will hang on the side of the Island Music Company building and will be seen by hundreds of drivers passing by.
“It’s a community music mural,” Wang said. “Keith Grasso wanted this type
of mural for quite some time. He asked me to draw up a sketch and it was approved by the Town of La Plata. It’s going to create a lot of attention, so it was nice being a little more than halfway done and getting the comptroller’s feedback. I really appreci- ated the comptroller even coming to see what our shop is all about.”
Grasso, president of the La Plata Business Association and owner of Island Music, said the comptroller was able to highlight and see some of the town’s businesses. He said every owner ex- pressed how the associa- tion has been an asset to their business and they are proud to be members.
“It’s been great being here in La Plata,” said Julie Keyton, owner of Centerpiece Boutique and Design. “I enjoy my neighbors and we have a great community in the La Plata Business Association where Keith is the
president. He has done an amazing job here and it’s such an honor to be a part of it.”
Grasso said during the recent Small Business Saturday, La Plata businesses made more than $200,000 in sales and had thousands of people out shopping that day.
Maddy Voytek, Mary- land Retailer’s Associa- tion legislative assistant, joined Franchot on the tour. She informed the local business owners that the MRA is in support of keeping tax dollars in the state and she encouraged the town to become a des- ignated Main Street.
“We are pulling really hard to get people off the internet and in stores,” Voytek said. “It’s really easy for everyone to buy online and pay no sales tax, but they’re not sup- porting state jobs, the tax base and the businesses that give back to the com- munity. It’s really import- ant for everyone to shop
local. I really hope that La Plata does become a designated Main Street. It opens them up to a lot of state funding that they can probably benefit from.”
Franchot said people are often attracted by the convenience of the inter- net, but when they are reminded that businesses are what make local com- munities strong, they un- derstand why they should come out to shop in the stores.
“These businesses generate the tax revenue for everything we care about — our school system, our highways and hospitals,” Frachot said. “I think we are going to see a period of economic growth in the years to come and what a great thing it would be because we’ve been so slug- gish in the economy. Now Congress also has to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act which would require the out-of-state internet companies to collect sales tax on items they sell in Maryland. They cannot continue to have an unleveled playing field.”
Throughout the tour Franchot gave medallions to business owners to honor the entrepreneurial energy that the owners represent in the state. He hands out his medallions to veterans, first responders and Marylanders who make a difference.
“I think that is important for the comptroller to be here, passing out medallions, thanking our local businesses for them being a business here,” Hale said. “I hope the businesses will continue to grow and we will get more small businesses. Our whole downtown development plan is based on redeveloping ... to attract small businesses and hopefully this will continue long after I’m out of office. But we planted the seeds while I’m here, to make sure that this happens in the future.”