Flip through the pages of this holiday guide and you will spot a few examples of local businesses giving back to the community, whether it’s the toy drive at Arundel Federal Savings Bank or Lights on the Bay, the Annapolis display that is made possible by sponsors.
These businesses make it part of their mission to support the Greater Severna Park community by hiring local workers, donating to Boy Scouts and sports teams, and by making the area a better place to live. While these places have never stopped supporting Severna Park, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important to support them.
According to a report by Yelp, 163,735 U.S. businesses closed between March 1 and August 31, and those are just the ones listed on the Yelp website. Small businesses need our help to survive.
“Before you make that purchase through the online marketplaces, please check out our local businesses,” said Liz League, president of the Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce. “You can most likely find anything you are looking for while supporting our local economy. If a business doesn’t have it, they will surely be able to get it for you.”
Local businesses have adapted to serve customers safely and efficiently during the pandemic. Franklin’s Toys, for example, is offering curbside pickup and allowing customers to shop by phone and FaceTime.
“Now more than ever, it’s appreciated if people shop local, not just here but everywhere,” said Franklin’s Toys co-owner Stephen Kaufmann. “Some businesses might not survive this. We’re doing OK but not where we should be.”
When the pandemic hit, Fishpaws Marketplace started offering delivery throughout Anne Arundel County on purchases of $75 or more. Garry’s Grill started delivery and created an outdoor seating area.
Cafe Mezzanotte began offering curbside pickup and delivery through Grubhub. Owner Kosmas “Tommie” Koukoulis also opened a seafood market, which expanded into an organic market to support the local farmers who provide Cafe Mezzanotte with its meats and produce.
“I have learned that nothing can stop us,” Koukoulis told the Voice in July. “I have learned that there are people within and around Mezzanotte who care about this place as much as I do.”
There are countless examples of local businesses stepping up to help consumers.
By shopping local, customers are not only supporting their favorite businesses but also helping themselves, as Ben Birge, president and CEO of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation, explained in the October edition of the Severna Park Voice.
“In Anne Arundel County, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there are more than 3,300 restaurants, retail shops and personal service businesses,” Birge wrote. “These stores, cafes and beauty salons employ upward of 59,000 workers. So when you buy local, the money stays in our county.”
According to U.S. Census data, Severna Park has more than 27,000 residents ages 18 and older. If each resident spent $40 at local businesses this holiday season, the local economy would be infused with more than $1 million.
That’s not to suggest that people should buy items they don’t want or need, but it is a good reminder to turn to these small businesses first when looking for a product or service.
As League noted, there are no shortage of places that offer good gift options.
“Don’t forget that great gifts include certificates for hair, nail and beauty treatments, massages, dining and entertainment like EscapeTime, Severna Park Lanes and The Axe House Annapolis,” League said. “Some businesses are selling kits to make personalized products, like The Blended Essentials, Annapolis Home Brew and Lisa’s Cakepops. How about a car tune-up gift certificate from Severna Park Automotive, Challenger Auto or Coale’s Automotive? Step out of the box and have fun shopping local. Your gifts will always be appreciated in more ways than one!”