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Herald Mail Media: Franchot urges people to ‘Shop Maryland for the Holidays’

It’s a merry time of year at Olympia Candy Kitchen just north of Hagerstown.

“Christmas is our busiest season. Valentine’s Day is actually No. 3. Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s, that’s our order,” said owner Tony Pananes. “At Christmas, we have a lot of candies (such as peppermint bark) that we don’t have during the rest of the year. ... We also carry a lot of the foiled candies, Santas and snowmen and presents.”

Olympia has been in business for 115 years, including more than three decades at its current home on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot referred to the importance of the holiday season and to the company’s history when he came to Olympia Candy Kitchen Thursday on a leg of the “Shop Maryland for the Holidays” tour. The tour is hosted by Franchot and the Maryland Retailers Association.

The aim is to encourage Marylanders to shop locally instead of shopping online or at out-of-state businesses.

The comptroller’s stop at Olympia was sandwiched between appearances at Buttercup Boutique in Cumberland and La Nice Boutique in Frederick.

At Olympia Candy Kitchen, some Washington County and Hagerstown officials joined Franchot, who presented a certificate of appreciation to Pananes.

While large companies tend to be widely known, Franchot said, small businesses like Olympia make up the bulk of the state’s economy.

“That means you guys are important,” he said to Pananes and store employees.

Brick-and-mortar stores like Olympia pay property taxes, use local goods and services and provide the foundation for many local economies, he said.

“They hire our friends and neighbors,” he said. “They’re extremely important to their communities.”

Then Franchot turned again to Pananes and the Olympia Candy Kitchen employees.

“What you do is very important,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s a competitive environment.”

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