Holiday shoppers came out in force to support Historic Ellicott City's shops for Small Business Saturday.
"It was extremely successful," Dave Carney, owner of the Wine Bin and former president of the Ellicott City Business Association, said of the event. "A lot of people came out and shopped small in Ellicott City."
He said the turnout appeared to be a little smaller than last year, but he attributed that to the event coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when many Howard Countians are away visiting family.
Carney said shoppers, whose cars lined Main Street and filled off-street parking lots, were in a "festive mood" Saturday.
Kelli Myers, owner of A Journey From Junk, a vintage chic boutique on Main Street, said the event is "one of the busiest days of the year" for her shop.
"We had an amazing weekend," she said, noting that she had already surpassed her sales projections for the year. "People really, I think, try to shop small on [Small Business Saturday], and show their support for the small business community."
To accommodate shoppers, Howard County officials announced last week that all parking lots in the historic district would be free from Nov. 29 through New Year's Day.
Carney and Myers were both optimistic about holiday shopping in the weeks to come, despite having a week less to sell products since Thanksgiving came late this year.
Myers said she compensated by putting Christmas-themed products out in late October.
"I hate doing that but I knew we were going to a lose a week otherwise," she said of the decision. Customers didn't seem to mind: "The first day we had [holiday products] out, we sold a lot of Christmas."
Shoppers who missed Small Business Saturday can catch Midnight Madness, Ellicott City's other seasonal shopping event, Friday, Dec. 6. The town's Welcome Center will host a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., and shops will stay open until midnight.
Ellicott City Historic District Partnership president Andy Hall said the events boost business and holiday cheer in Ellicott City.
"We're happy with any initiative that recognizes and supports a community of small businesses," he said.