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Shopping Small Brings Big Returns in Allegany County

Posted on 11/21/2023

1156 words

 |  6 min. read

Allegany County Main Street organizations promote buying local for the holidays

Main Street Books
Main Street Books in Frostburg offers a wide selection of books and gifts.

Studies have shown that for every dollar spent at a small business, 67 cents goes back to the local community. With the holidays quickly approaching, it is an opportune time to show support for small businesses in your area. Small Business Saturday, held on November 25, marks the unofficial start of the shopping season for many, and it provides considerable financial impacts on independent retailers and restaurants.

“This is the time of year that really sets small businesses up to get through the rest of the winter,” explains Deidre Roberts, executive director of FrostburgFirst. “January through April can be a difficult time, especially with weather challenges, so our businesses look to the holiday season and Small Business Saturday in particular. That’s the day that will help to pay to keep their lights on throughout the winter. That’s going to help pay the salaries of their staff. That’s going to help keep their business afloat during the slow times. So, it’s a really, really important day for them. It’s one of the biggest days for them for the entire year.” 

Paloma Lifestyle Company
Paloma Lifestyle Company, located in Cumberland, is a boutique that specializes in thoughtful gifts and home goods.

A survey commissioned by American Express reported that last year, “projected spending among U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $17.9 billion.” That number could continue to grow if more shoppers pledge to do the same.

“It’s easy to go online and buy something from Amazon, but the impact that it makes for people to just buy one or two things at a local shop…if everybody did that, it would be huge,” says Cumberland Downtown Development Commission’s Executive Director, Melinda Kelleher. She notes, “It’s like that saying, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ This is the opportunity to do your part.”

You can spend your time downtown all day, have lunch or dinner, and get any kind of gift you can imagine. I made a commitment last year to do all of my Christmas shopping small, and it wasn't even a struggle

In Cumberland, specifically, downtown construction projects have caused challenges for small businesses in the area, which makes supporting these establishments even more important.

“All of the sidewalks are still accessible and open, so we’re hoping people will come downtown and shop small for the holidays,” says Kelleher. “You can spend your time downtown all day, have lunch or dinner, and get any kind of gift you can imagine. I made a commitment last year to do all of my Christmas shopping small, and it wasn't even a struggle.”

“If you shop locally from a small business, you are going to find something that you can’t find just anywhere,” says Roberts. “I think a lot of people are not always aware of what we have."

Yellow K Record Store
Yellow K Records in Frostburg has a wide selection of analog music in a variety of formats, including vinyl records.

Deidre Roberts claims that the largest donations the Frostburg community receives for community projects are from small businesses. She explains, “You can apply for funds from charitable organizations and banks and the like, but it’s these small businesses that are run by one or two people who are willing to give a couple hundred bucks for an ad in the yearbook or a thousand dollars to sponsor a local sports team.” So, if you love seeing new community projects, public art pieces, educational outreach programs, or recreational activities, reinforce what matters to you as a community member by supporting local businesses that uphold your values.

Allegany Arts Council
As a working gallery, the Allegany Arts Council in Cumberland showcases and sells pieces crafted by local artists and artisans

“If you walk into one of our small businesses, you’re probably meeting the owner when you walk in the door,” says Roberts. “Most are sole proprietors or only have a few employees. These are truly ambassadors for our communities, and it is really important to support them and what they’re doing. They are why we have tourism dollars coming in and why people move here because they’ve had a wonderful experience during a previous visit. If they don’t have that unique experience, shopping or dining in our downtown, then we won’t continue to see positive economic development and growth.”

Holiday Events in Frostburg

Shop Small Holiday Market - Saturday, November 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To be held at City Place, 14 S. Water Street

There will be free hot cocoa and bag check-in, local arts and crafts vendors, raffles, scavenger hunts, and promotions. 

The Children's Literature Centre's Storybook Holiday 20th Anniversary - Saturday, December 2, 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

To be held at various locations around downtown Frostburg

Activities include: Breakfast with the Elves, Cocoa with the Po-Po, Elf Olympics, Run Your Bells Off for Autism, Storybook Holiday Parade, Horse-drawn Carriage Rides, Kids’ Elf Training Academy, Elves Secret Santa Workshop, Storybook Readings, Author/Illustrator Presentation, Jack Frost Neighborhood Snowball Toss and more! 

 “It’s two great weekends to be in Frostburg, and both days are different,” notes Roberts. “They both have their own feel to them and their own intent. They’re both special in their own ways.”

Polar Express™ Train Ride - December 8-10, 18-24

Frostburg Station, 19 Depot St.

A reminder: free parking is offered downtown throughout the holiday season, and Burg Bucks, the Downtown Frostburg Gift Certificate, are available for purchase by emailing Call (301) 689-6900 for more information.

For more on Shop Small Season in downtown Frostburg, visit FrostburgFirst’s website and social media accounts @FrostburgFirst on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Cumberland At Night
Supporting local businesses in Allegany County is easy, with so many options located in its downtowns and main streets.

Holiday Events in Cumberland

Tree Lighting Celebration - Friday, November 24, 5-7 p.m.

To be held at Canal Place Plaza, 13 Canal St.

The event will feature the annual tree lighting, live music, sweet treats, hot chocolate, and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Clause.

Shop Small Saturday - Saturday, November 25

To be held at shops throughout downtown Cumberland

Special promotions, discounts, and giveaways will take place all day.

Visits with Santa and Mrs. Clause at The Book Center - Saturdays, November 25-December 9, 1-3 p.m. and December 16, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

The Book Center, 15 North Centre Street

Breakfast with Santa - Saturdays, November 25, December 2, December 9 and December 16

To be held at various local restaurants; see schedule for information on times and reservation requirements.

Cumberland Winter Festival and Market - December 2 and 9, 5-9 p.m. 

Canal Place Plaza, 13 Canal St.

Activities include live music, vendors, arts and crafts, reindeer games, fire pits, free gift wrapping, holiday celebrations display, bicycle decorating contest for nonprofits, snacks and drinks, and more!

“We wanted to model it after a lot of the European holiday festivals and markets,” describes Kelleher. “We’ve never done this before, so we're going to try something new. The idea is that it's a pilot this year to see how it works and then next year we'll bring it back downtown and down Baltimore Street and the side streets. We can spread it out a little bit more.”

Details on all holiday events can be found at, the Historic City Center’s Facebook page, and Downtown Cumberland on Instagram.

In addition to separate campaigns and events, FrostburgFirst and the Cumberland Downtown Development Commission have also once again partnered with Allegany Tourism for Tourism's annual Shop Small, Win Big Contest. Participation is easy — when you shop at participating small businesses from November 24-December 20 and upload your receipt, you are entered to win cash prizes. 

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