Baltimore-area businesses already feeling loss of 'House of Cards'

The “House of Cards” crew is still getting paid through the suspension of the show’s sixth season, a source close to production confirmed Tuesday, but local vendors are already feeling the loss of a deep-pocketed customer and the cachet of being associated with a hit series.

Production company Media Rights Capital is paying the show’s crew while on hiatus, sources confirmed, but could not detail how much or for how long. Officials with Media Rights Capital would not comment on this matter.


Media Rights Capital and distributor Netflix announced the suspension of the show’s final season last Tuesday, days after actor Anthony Rapp alleged that executive producer and star Kevin Spacey had made sexual advances toward him in the 1980s, when he was 14 years old. Since then, several men, including former “House of Cards” production assistant and actor Harry Dreyfuss, son of thespian Richard Dreyfuss, have also made sexual misconduct allegations against Spacey.

On Friday night, Netflix and Media Rights Capital announced that Spacey, who played ruthless politican Frank Underwood in the series, had been fired.


“Netflix will not be involved with any further production of ‘House of Cards’ that includes Kevin Spacey,” a Netflix spokesman said in a statement Friday. “We will continue to work with MRC during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the show.”

During its run, the production, which used sound stages in Harford County, has pumped more than half-a-billion dollars into the state’s economy and patronized many area businesses.

Caterers and fast-food restaurants, carpet and furniture outlets, music and antique stores, warehouses, auto parts dealers and paint suppliers — all are included among the show’s hundreds of Maryland vendors during more than five years of filming, often in and around Baltimore, at locations including the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Baltimore Sun.

A state-created vendor list illustrates the ripple effect a big-budget production can have on a local economy. The December 2016 list from the Department of Commerce contains 1,963 House of Cards vendors, although many are fast-food outlets or convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, Starbucks, Chipotle and McDonald’s.

WPS Paint & Decorating Center in Emmorton will miss the crew stopping by as many as two or three times a week to buy paint or shellac. Among the paint it supplied was a color called river gorge gray, used for the mock Oval Office on the show.

“It makes a big impact on our business,” said Adrianne Kotula, the center’s lead interior designer. She declined to provide an economic figure but said the show supplemented our business when things got slow with the housing market five or six years ago.”

Plus, Kotula said, there is a certain status that comes from supplying paint to the White House, even a fictional rendition. For the benefit of customers, the store assembled a palette of colors with all of the paint selections the show’s crew has made over the years. “We had a few people coming in just looking for ‘House of Cards’ colors,” she said.

Dangerously Delicious Pies, which has outlets in Canton and Hampden, will miss the crew ordering “sometimes 20 to 40 pies at a time” at $35 apiece, said owner Mary Wortman.

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“We were definitely disappointed — it’s a little exciting when you take a delivery over to a film,” she said. “They loved the chicken pot pie — that was at the top of the list. And they loved our quiches. Their catering staff said it was a change of pace from a lot of pizzas.”

Also feeling the sting is Jennifer Lane, owner of Belle Patri Home Furnishings & Accessories in Jarrettsville, which helped outfit sets for the show.

“It could be your everyday stuff — as simple as the kitchen table in the White House kitchen or bedroom furniture,” Lane said. “A lot of times they’d improvise. They’d take a sofa and reupholster it.”

Lane said the crew didn’t provide steady revenue but rather would pop in “on an as-need basis.”

But “as far as revenues go, we do benefit from it. We’re sad to see them suspending it. Hopefully there will be other production companies and TV shows,” she said. “It’s something we enjoy. It’s absolutely something the customers know about.”

Among other major vendors was a warehouse on Continental Drive in Abingdon, according to Media Rights Capital, the production company. Taylor Fields, vice president of leasing for Knott Realty Group, said it would be premature to comment about the warehouse.


“At this point in time we are still uncertain of their future plans,” he said in an email.