Ellicott City looks forward to a busy Small Business Saturday

Main Street's grand reopening to be held Saturday
Posted at 9:44 AM, Nov 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-25 23:52:56-05

For Sweet Cascades Chocolatier owner Sue Whary, Main Street in Ellicott City is home.

But when devastating floods washed through old Ellicott City at the end of July, Sweet Cascades was one of dozens of businesses that were displaced.

The July 31 flood could have meant the end for Whary’s shop.

Yet thanks to support from other businesses, she’s looking forward to a busy holiday season. The Wine Bin has set up space inside its store for Whary’s chocolates, and she’s baking the confections at a kitchen inside The Savage Mill in nearby Savage.

“Main Street is home for us,” Whary said. “The love and support here, you can’t match it anywhere else.”    

Dave Carney, owner of The Wine Bin, said making room inside the store for Sweet Cascades was a win-win for both businesses.

“We’re a very close-knit community down here,” Carney said.

Over the last few months, Main Street is slowly getting back to normal after the flash flood, which killed two people and damaged many homes and businesses.

But Small Business Saturday—the Saturday after Thanksgiving when holiday shoppers are encouraged to patronize small businesses—will be symbolic for Ellicott City.

That day will mark the grand reopening of Main Street. The event will begin at 10 a.m., and will be followed by what officials are hoping is a busy day for downtown shops and restaurants.

Numerous businesses are offering discounts and in-store specials for Small Business Saturday. Shoppers who buy something at an Old Ellicott City business can bring their receipts to the Howard County Welcome Center, and receive a free commemorative T-shirt.

“Small Business Saturday is going to be very key to the economic vitality of our town,” said Kelly Zimmerman, marketing director of the Ellicott City Partnership.

She said she’s optimistic.

“People want to help, and the best way they can do it is to come shop,” Zimmerman said.

Some good has come out of the flood, she said. For example, it’s strengthened the Partnership’s relationship with Howard County Tourism, as well as relationships between Main Street businesses.

“We’ve been working together to pool our resources,” Zimmerman said.

Sarah Kurtanich, marketing director for Howard County Tourism, said as bad as the flood was, it helped businesses realize just how many people care.

“It opened a lot of lines of communication up, too, between different county offices,” Kurtanich said.

Carney said he’s expecting a robust Small Business Saturday this year—just like every year.

“It always brings many, many people into our town,” said Carney, who’s offering $10 gift certificates to every customer who spends $100. “Though this year is going to be weird, because not everyone is open.”  

He laughed as he recalled the first Small Business Saturday in Ellicott City several years ago, which he “totally ignored.”

“I went to Target and it was empty,” Carney said. “And then I had an almost 15-minute backup getting into town.”

Beyond Small Business Saturday, holiday shoppers can look forward to Midnight Madness on Dec. 2. The 38th annual Midnight Madness in Ellicott City will be held on Dec. 2, with businesses staying open until midnight.

And for those businesses that aren’t open yet, the Ellicott City Partnership is looking for artists to paint the plywood surfaces of five stores or restaurants to brighten them up. The partnership is seeking sponsorships, ranging from $1,200 to $1,800 per shop. For more details, call 443-240-2060, or email

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