Currently viewing the tag: "Thurmont Main Street"

James Rada, Jr.

With Thanksgiving dinner behind them, many people will set out that holiday weekend to begin their Christmas shopping. Don’t forget the local businesses when looking for gifts. They often offer unique gifts for the hard-to-shop-for names on your list. That Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26, will also be Small Business Saturday. It is a national event, sponsored by American Express, where mom-and-pop shops across the country encourage residents in their communities to “Shop Small.” The event began in 2010; last year, American Express reported that 95 million people went out to shop at local businesses on Small Business Saturday.

This will be the third year that the Thurmont business community has participated in the event.

“It’s a great tool for the businesses to use, and more and more are participating every year,” said Thurmont Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder.

Her office will be offering businesses “Shop Small” bags and stickers. She will also be sending out an offer to Thurmont businesses to have their business promoted on the Thurmont Main Street website for the week of the Small Business Saturday.

Grinder said that last year several businesses offered the bags and stickers to shoppers and used the “Shop Small” signage. All of these promotional items are free and available from American Express or the Main Street office. In addition, a handful of businesses also took the opportunity to advertise themselves via the web.

“More and more businesses are using it, and, hopefully, it will continue to grow,” Grinder said.

In Thurmont, the week of Small Business Saturday culminates with the popular Christmas in Thurmont event, which also brings a lot of shoppers into local businesses.

For more information about Small Business Saturday, you can call 240-626-9980 or visit the website at www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small.

The Thurmont business community put its best foot forward for the 11th Annual Thurmont Business Expo, held on April 2, 2015. However, this was the Expo that almost didn’t happen. Thurmont Main Street, the usual organizers of the event, had decided not to hold the Expo this year and canceled it.

Heather Dewees and Rob Renner decided that the event provided too much value to Thurmont businesses and its residents and to cancel it would be a loss.

“I felt like if we lost it, it wasn’t ever coming back,” Dewees said.

The Expo allows residents to come out and discover many of the 260 businesses that are in the town. Business owners can meet potential customers and show off their goods and services.

Dewees and Renner approached the Thurmont Special Events Committee to provide things like liability insurance and to handle money from vendors. Dewees and Renner lowered the cost of sponsorship and didn’t charge extra to businesses that wanted to sell products.

“It involves a lot of coordination, but it was fun,” said Renner.

However, just when things came together and the Expo was ready to go, a late snowstorm closed schools on March 20, which meant that the Expo had to be postponed.

Nearly four dozen of the town’s businesses participated in the Expo, which was rescheduled for a Thursday evening.

“We lost a few vendors because we rescheduled, but this was the only other night available,” Dewees said.

Hundreds of people turned out for the event at Catoctin High School.

John Nickerson is a familiar face at the Expo, with his original Gnarly Artly t-shirts. “Most of my business is done on the internet, so this gives me the chance to meet a lot of people,” Nickerson said.

Stacie Zelenka, owner of Pondscapes, agreed. “We’re a home-based business, so this gives us the opportunity to have a storefront for an evening and meet customers.”

She said the Expo has proven its worth to her because she always gets referrals from it. She also gets the opportunity to meet customers who say that they didn’t know her business existed, so the Expo exposes her business to new customers.

Heather Lawyer with Gateway Automotive said that Gateway doesn’t really advertise so the Expo allows Gateway Automotive to put itself out in front of the community.

“It’s also nice to have customers stop by and talk to us and say, ‘Thank you,’” said Lawyer.

A nice new feature of this year’s Expo was that each visitor was given a vendor map that also included addresses, phone numbers, and websites for each Expo vendor.

Proceeds from the Thurmont Business Expo are donated to the Thurmont Food Bank.

Candy and Heather Lawyer

Candy and Heather Lawyer of Gateway Automotive behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.

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Niki Eyler, owner of The Eyler Stables Flea Market in Thurmont, at the Thurmont Business Expo.

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Folks from the Thurmont Veterinary Clinic are shown at their booth.

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Thurmont’s Mayor, John Kinnaird poses next to a drawing of himself done by John Nickerson of Gnarly Artly.

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Doris Roman and Antonio C. from the Thurmont Senior Center are shown behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.

Photos by Grace Eyler

James Rada, Jr.

You may notice some new road signs in Thurmont indicating that you are on The Gateway Trail.

The signs were approved by the Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners in January, as a way to start promoting the new hiking and biking trail before the weather turns warm.

Thurmont Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder told the commissioners that the idea was “to create a buzz” about the trail.

In 2012, Catoctin Mountain Park had nearly 250,000 visitors, but only a small portion of those visitors extended their visit into Thurmont, according to Grinder. She believes that The Gateway Trail will help encourage visitors to come into town after their visit to the park.

The trail begins at the Trolley Trail in town. From Memorial Park, it runs along Park Lane to Frederick Road to South Altamont and west along West Main Street. At that point, the trail will tie in with a trail that the National Park Service is developing down to the Lewis Property. Once complete, visitors will be able to hike from Thurmont up onto Catoctin Mountain and back.

Eventually, the goal is to run the trail through Community Park and build a bridge at the back of the park that crosses the highway and ties into the Lewis Property from that direction.

The mayor and commissioners approved $350 for up to twelve signs to mark the trail. This would allow people to start using the trail this season. Grinder said that it would put the trail “on the map” for possible funding for trail improvements next year.

“This can work,” Grinder told the commissioners. “It will work. It is just going to take a concerted effort by all parties.”