BERLIN – Merchants and municipal officials welcomed representatives with the U.S. Small Business Administration and partnering agencies this week ahead of Small Business Saturday.
On Tuesday, representatives with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Baltimore District Office, USDA Rural Development and the Maryland Small Business Development Center visited Berlin merchants as they prepare for one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
“We serve the small business community throughout Maryland, and today we are here in Berlin to tour some of the small businesses and help them promote Small Business Saturday,” SBA Baltimore District Director Stephen Umberger said.
Celebrated each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday allows consumers to make an impact in their communities by supporting small businesses and shopping locally.
“This is the 10th anniversary of the event,” said Rachel Howard, public information officer and economic development specialist for SBA. “So really it’s a way between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to give small businesses a chance to compete and gather a lot of that holiday spending money.”
Howard said scheduled tours of both Berlin and Princess Anne this week were meant to highlight the valuable contributions of small business to the local and state economies. Maryland is home to over 590,000 small businesses, representing 99.5% of all businesses in Maryland, according to SBA.
“Our sole purpose is to help people start and grow their businesses, so we try to travel around each year and go to some of the different communities,” she said. “It’s really the small towns, the owners, and the friends and neighbors that make Maryland so special.”
Howard noted that consumers are supporting communities when they support local business.
“Through extensive research, we have figured out that about 68 cents of every dollar spent at an independent retailer stays in that local community …,” she said. “The money stays in your community, you’re employing friends and neighbors. They are the ones sponsoring the local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the softball teams and the Little League teams.”
Officials this week were also joined by Senator Mary Beth Carozza’s representative, Carol Rose, Worcester County Economic Development Director Kathryn Gordon and Berlin Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells.
“Small business is part of Worcester County,” Gordon said. “You go into any of the municipalities we have here, and you can see that the people that live there have decided to contribute to the community and open up a business. What they offer is hard to duplicate. Every store is different, but at the same time they are very complimentary.”
Wells agreed. She noted that Berlin shops were owner-operated and sold items – including jewelry, art and clothing – made in town.
“There’s always something unique you can find,” she said. “There’s no duplicates here in Berlin.”
Small Business Saturday will take place this Saturday, Nov. 30. Howard encouraged everyone to shop and dine local.
“We want to encourage people to get out and support the community,” she said.