Volume 12, Issue 17 ~ April 22-28, 2004
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A Birthday Toast to Small Business Along the Bay
By some yardsticks, Bay Weekly is a come-lately in Chesapeake Country. We published our first issue 11 years ago — on Earth Day, 1993 — and in this issue we take stock of big changes we’ve seen since then.

We also take this occasion to both rejoice and commiserate with our allies, small businesses from Severna Park to Solomons who are our friends, advertisers and soul-mates in enterprise.

Readers from across our broad region have told us how much they enjoyed our Bay Weekly Business Biographies in a special issue April 8. Their words confirmed for us that people care about small businesses and want to buy from them when they get good products, reliable services and neighborly commerce in attractive surroundings.

In other words, not only the businesses themselves draw people; so do their communities.

We get excited with each new enterprise we hear about, from Ollie Miller, who was brave enough to open an art gallery in the hinterlands of Lothian … Suzie Robertson, who committed her future in West River to wild birds … Patricia Norman who’s successfully launched a consignment store for high-end women’s wear at Regal Rags in Annapolis … to Harry Lindsley in Pasadena, whose Lending Services helps people get a better value out of their money. And, of course, the list goes on.

We’re delighted at watching enterprises become establishments. We think of Alexander’s of Annapolis Salon and Day Spa or Jalapeno’s in Parole, where Gonzalo Fernandez has doubled the size of his appealing restaurant.

Then there’s the Calvert Country Market, which is thriving as a home for local small businesses that might be hard-pressed to survive without a collective draw for shoppers. Here you’ll find Gourd Man, Bunnyhead Bakery, two local wool shops spinning yarn, a seamstress and much more.

So we’re so troubled when our neighbors in business tell us they don’t know whether they can hold out because of pressure from corporate chains and Big Box stores like Wal-Mart.

We recall taking our bikes in for repair at the Anne Arundel County shop where we bought them, only to learn the sad news that it was going out of business. Our friend there couldn’t stay afloat, despite his relentless repair work, with people drawn like bugs to a Klieg light by the cheap, glitzy imports in the bike aisle at the Big Box stores.

Our mission here is not to examine the psychology of why people give their money to Big Box companies that ship it out of town. Rather, we want to salute those Baysiders who see the wisdom of promoting small businesses.

When we rail in this space about the march of Wal-Mart and the corporate chains, we’re speaking not out of some radical politics but out of concern for the well-being of our communities.

Just as agriculture provided the building blocks of Jefferson’s democratic America, small business is the foundation of modern America — and the truest picture left of the American dream.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last updated April 22, 2004 @ 1:20am.