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Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Carroll County municipalities will show their support to local businesses during Shop Small Passport Week.

The passport week was organized by members of each municipality in Carroll County, forming a group called Carroll County Downtown, as a way for each city and town to support local businesses in and out of their town.

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Shop Small Passport Week will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5. The main goal of the week is to bring more awareness about the importance of shopping local.

“It’s just to make the community aware to shop local and small businesses during the holiday season,” said Jane Linde, chair of Main Street Merchant Association in Sykesville. “I think a lot of people get caught up in the online and the big-box stores; smaller stores do have a lot of neat things to offer.”

The passports, which can be obtained at any of the participating local businesses, need to be stamped or signed by at least eight local businesses. Completed passports can be turned in to any Carroll County Public Library branch or town hall by Dec. 6 with contact info added on the back. Twenty winners will be randomly selected on Dec. 11 for $50 gift certificates that will be good at any of the participating passport businesses.

According to Julie Della-Maria, executive director of the Downtown Sykesville Connection, Shop Small Passport Week served as a way to extend Small Business Saturday, which is sandwiched between the major retail days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“Doing it for just one day was not realistic,” Della-Maria said. “We also wanted to see if chain businesses will have Black Friday and also Cyber Monday and to have the counterpart of that smaller for small businesses. We decided to extend the program to a full week and make it a journey in all the downtowns of Carroll County.”

The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce fully supports the extension of Small Business Saturday into Shop Small Passport Week, its president said.

“Obviously the ‘shop small’ is something that’s nationwide, focused on getting people maybe to not look at Amazon as much or the big-box stores but to look at these small mom-and-pop stores that really have phenomenal products, excellent service and for a large extent folks may not even know that they exist,” said Mike McMullin, Chamber of Commerce president. “When you travel the different Main Streets we have throughout Carroll, you find a lot of really cool stores, restaurants, all of that. Get people going into these stores because the hope will be that once people discover an amazing retail shop or nice restaurant here on one of the Main Streets, they’ll keep coming back and it’s going to be good for business. What’s good for business in Carroll is always good for the entire community.”

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