This year has really sucked--and some places like Ellicott City got slammed from all sides. When floods tore through Main Street in July, people called it the end of this historic hamlet. But they underestimated the energy and perseverance of the Ellicott citizens.
Walking through the still-battered streets there are signs of recovery underway--hints of life and commerce that restore a bit of faith in humanity. Some places like HorseSpirit Arts Gallery (8090 Main St.,  461-3505, horsespiritartsgallery.com), have already reopened. HorseSpirit represents over 40 artists working with various materials like paint, glass, metal, and wood. I just happened to walk in on the night of the grand reopening party and the atmosphere was ebullient. Antique Depot (3720 Maryland Ave., antique-depot-ec.com) managed to escape the worst of the flood. The shop is open and a great place to find gifts for that special someone who might appreciate a filigree bumblebee pin or a vintage typewriter. Antique Depot also boasts a decent selection of vinyl LPs to flip through. Some stores still working on renovations have moved into a temporary spot in the market right behind Su Casa (8307 Main St.,  465-4100, sucasa-furniture.com), which, by the way, is the best place to find parking. Inside the market, locally owned aromatherapy shop [be] essential (beblends.com) has natural products like fragrances, soy candles, and sweet individualized aromatherapy bracelets with names like Perseverance and Positivity.
Also in the temporary spot, A La Mode Boutique ( 465-9000, alamodeboutique.net) has lots of "EC Strong" shirts and candles so you can show your support for the community. Just behind these shops and bordering the parking lot, you'll find Matcha Time (3785 Hamilton St., matchatimecafe.com), a Japanese teahouse and gift shop. You can grab some sushi and tea before perusing the selection of Japanese goods. Matcha Time is a little place but deceptively plentiful, so don't miss it. Another store not to miss is Syriana (8180 Main St.,  325-5661, facebook.com/Syriana), which directly supports skilled Syrian craftsmen and artisans working in the United States. The shop has beautiful mother of pearl inlay keepsake boxes, hand woven textiles, and brass—all beautiful, not too expensive, and benefitting a good cause. (Athena Towery)
Handmade Mother Of Pearl Mosaic Jewelry Box ($24.95), Syriana, 8180 Main St., (443)325-5661, syriana.org
EC Strong Candle ($24), A La Mode Boutique, 7546 Main St. (temporary location), (443) 920-3652, beblends.com
Tea Set ($24.99), Matcha Time, 3785 Hamilton St., (410) 418-4832, matchatimecafe.com
Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera With Flash ($27), Antique Depot, 3720 Maryland Ave., (410) 750-2674, antique-depot-ec.com
Oil painting by flood survivor Rhona Schonwald ($3,600), HorseSpirit Arts Gallery, 8090 Main St., (410) 461-3505, horsespiritartsgallery.com
Aromatherapy Bracelet (Perserverence) ($25), [be] essential, 8307 Main St. (temporary location), (443) 417-5913, beblends.com
Kokeshi Doll ($9.99) Matcha Time, 3785 Hamilton St., (410) 418-4832, matchatimecafe.com
Handmade Soaps ($3.99), Syriana, 8180 Main St., (443) 325-5661, syriana.org