STEVENSVILLE — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Queen Anne’s County Thursday afternoon, Nov. 21, to recognize local proprietors as part of the ”Shop Maryland for the Holidays” campaign, encouraging shoppers to visit Maryland stores for holiday gifts.

Franchot stopped by Backyard Billy’s in Grasonville, where he presented a proclamation to owner Bill Williams.

Williams has owned Backyard Billy’s for the past 29 years, first at Red Apple Plaza, then moved to Grasonville many years ago. He told Franchot, “Everything we sell here is made in the U.S.A., and most of our products are made within 100 miles from here.”

Backyard Billy’s has a wide selection of outdoor furniture, play-sets, grills and fireplaces.

Franchot’s message was to “Shop Local” in Maryland, especially during the holiday season. Franchot called it “the patriotic thing to do” as it relates to the state of Maryland.

“We’re here to promote shop local,” Franchot said, “which I think is a patriotic thing for all Marylanders around the holiday season to come down and patronize stores just like this one.”

From Backyard Billy’s, Franchot traveled west along Route 50 on his way to Kent Island Depot in Stevensville, encountering one of the frequent backups he had heard much about since redecking work on the Bay Bridge began. Traffic was “moderate,” only backed up as far as Chester Plaza and slowing him for a few minutes.

Franchot congratulated Kent Island Depot owner Sergey Nikolaev for his success with his upscale convenience store and gas station, located just south the entrance to the Bay Bridge Airport. He presented Nikolaev and manager Kyle Ritter with a proclamation. The Depot is a one-stop shop for Kent Island residents, offering gourmet sandwiches, crabs, homemade cakes, and other products.

Franchot said, “We, as the state of Maryland, are officially the richest of all the states in the entire nation. We have an average yearly income for each household in Maryland of just over $80,000 per year. We need to spend our money right here in our own state.”

The statewide tour was hosted by the comptroller and the Maryland Retailers Association to encourage residents to shop locally instead of online or out-of-state.

Franchot said small business is the backbone of Maryland’s economy.

“Holiday time is about being with good friends, family and the communities we call home. What better way to promote holiday cheer and goodwill than shopping in the many terrific local shops and businesses in the places we live. By shopping at local businesses, you support the more than 500,000 Marylanders employed in our state’s retail sector,” he said in a previous interview.

An average two-thirds of every dollar spent at small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community, meaning consumers’ local impact during the important holiday shopping season could be significant, according to the Small Business Economic Impact Study from American Express. Further, every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services.

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, and the celebration has since become an annual shopping tradition on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

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