Ellicott City businesses hope Small Business Saturday sparks return of customers after flooding

- If you are still trying to knock out your Christmas gift list, you may want to consider shopping on Small Business Saturday. For the shops in historic Ellicott City, they could use the boost in business more than ever after many stores were devastated by a flood earlier this summer.

Bustling with shoppers and filled with beautiful merchandise, Sweet Elizabeth Jane, a clothing boutique, opened its doors for the first time since the flood destroyed the iconic store in July.

“We've had people volunteering to do everything to help us get open,” said owner Tammy Beideman. “Seventy-two hours ago, everything in here was in a box.”

The shop is now in a new location just two blocks up the hill on Main Street from where it used to be. It had to move because the walls, foundation and every surface of the store were wiped out by the raging water.

But the people, the owners, workers and customers here are the same ones who lived through the horrific night and the days that followed. During the peak of the flooding, Sweet Elizabeth Jane employee Sarah Huber was swept away on a car on Main Street after closing the store for the night.

“Everybody has been hugging me,” she said. “Even if they don't know who I am, they just come up and hug me, and seeing a lot of people that we already know too is awesome.”

While Main Street reopened to traffic weeks ago, many of the stores were still not ready to do just that. But as we head into the busiest shopping season of the year, many businesses are back and they hope the customers return too.

Howard County is hosting a symbolic grand reopening for Main Street on Small Business Saturday.

“That's our biggest day of the year usually,” said Beideman.

Many of the stores that are on the historic street have come a long way since the flood. While Sweet Elizabeth Jane is in a new building, the spirit of the store hasn't changed at all.

“It's the people, it's the things that she chooses, how they are displaced, how nice everybody is,” said customer Bridgette Golfarb.

“We knew that people were going to support us,” Beideman said. “Everyone is really ready for the town to be back open again.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan plans to begin his statewide holiday shopping tour in Ellicott City on Monday.

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