Stop shopping online and start shopping at local businesses.
That was the message conveyed by Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot during a visit to Catonsville's small businesses along Frederick Road on Wednesday afternoon.
"The Internet has proven to be a big threat to brick-and-mortar main street stores and we just have to make sure Marylanders — where possible — patronize the local stores," Franchot said while walking to Bill's Music to present the longtime business with a proclamation.
Earlier, in the offices of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, Franchot told a group of business owners and public officials, "Very often, Marylanders think 'I'll shop at the store and go home and buy it on the Internet.'"
But that mindset is not only affecting the pockets of business owners across the state, but also affects state revenues, Franchot said.
"The sales tax revenues are very anemic because we have a weak economy — but the Internet is also responsible," Franchot said.
"We urge Marylanders to think about their purchases and actually think about what it takes to rent a place, have a store, hire employees — everything that is associated with a business depends upon people shopping," Franchot said.
The trip to Catonsville was part of Franchot's 2014 Shop Maryland for the Holidays Tour which he has done for the last four years to promote local business, according to Barbara Sauers, a spokeswoman for the comptroller's office.
This year, in addition to Catonsville, Franchot had planned stops in Hyattsville, Bethesda, Easton, Cambridge Annapolis Baltimore City, Cumberland, Hagerstown and Prince Frederick, Franchot's website states.
In Catonsville on Wednesday, Franchot was joined by local officials 1st District Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents Catonsville; District 12a Del. Steven DeBoy; and District 12 Del.-elect Eric Ebersole. Teal Cary, executive director of the Catonsville chamber and Sally Griffin, outgoing president of the chamber, were also among the group.
The group began at the Catonsville chamber then made stops at the newly opened Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland office building; Franco's Italian Bistro; Bill's Music; SugarBakers Cakes; Catonsville Custom Framing and Fine Art; and Appalacian Bluegrass Shoppe.
Quirk, owner of an investment company on Frederick Road, said the comptroller's visit is a sign that state level officials are taking notice of small businesses in the community.
"The comptroller recognizes Catonsville as a very active and thriving small business community... [His visit] is a testament to the momentum that is building," Quirk said.
Franchot said he plans to promote local shopping beyond the holidays.
He is planning a small business summit along with Gov.-elect Larry Hogan for February or March that will be held in Annapolis, Franchot said.
"Anyone could come and express any information they would like to. The effort would be to expand this holiday shop local to year-round shop local and just try to communicate with good-hearted Marylanders — do the right thing and support local businesses," Franchot said.
The local chamber recently launched its "Shop the 'Ville" campaign as the holidays began to also encourage local spending in Catonsville.
"A lot of the local chambers of commerce have shop-local campaigns," Franchot said. "This is just an extra layer on top of that."