Fran­chot tours small busi­nesses, pro­motes shop­ping lo­cal

La Plata stop high­lighted im­por­tance of sup­port­ing lo­cal econ­omy

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­

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.”

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