ANNE ARUNDEL County Executive John G. Gary's promise to devise new ways to support "mom and pop" businesses comes too late for Glen Burnie's DeGrange Lumber Co., which has announced it will close by year's end. That's sad. DeGrange Lumber has been a Ritchie Highway landmark since 1947.
Customers who've stayed loyal after the rise of "warehouse" outlets such as Hechinger Co. and Home Depot have done so partly because they get old-fashioned personal service from people they know, people who are their friends. The DeGrange family has been in Glen Burnie a long time, and has given much to it. County Councilman James "Ed" DeGrange Sr., vice president of the business, tried to move to Severna Park once, just a few miles south, but couldn't stay away. Severna Park was nice, he said, but it wasn't home. In Glen Burnie, Mr. DeGrange and his three brothers and business partners are involved in nearly every civic activity and community institution you can name.
But perhaps the most important thing the DeGranges did for Glen Burnie was invest in it; their lumber business has been a fixture in the economic foundation of the community. Unfortunately, small retailers are hard-pressed to compete today. The "superstore" concept has proven wildly successful with consumers, who are willing to sacrifice the personal touch for the luxury of choosing from a confounding variety of every product they could possibly need. Perhaps one day the pendulum will swing back. Rather than wait for that to occur, though, economic development leaders must get busy devising incentives for other entrepreneurs to invest in their communities and developing a plan to help small business owners flourish in this difficult climate.
Mapping the county's future
A reminder to citizens who care about what happens to that empty field next door: The county's Department of Planning and Code Enforcement is holding hearings on the new "General Development Plan," a blueprint for land use and zoning. Hearings will be from 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at Glen Burnie High and Thursday at Anne Arundel Community College. This is a chance for you to have a say in what kind of county your
children, and theirs, will inherit.