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Cumberland Times-News: Back local businesses, urges Franchot

By Brandon Glass

CUMBERLAND — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot kicked off his annual Shop Maryland for the Holidays campaign Wednesday at Cumberland Trail Connection at the Shops at Canal Place.

The statewide tour is hosted by the comptroller and the Maryland Retailers Association to encourage residents to shop locally instead of online or out-of-state.

“What we’re doing here is saying, ‘Look, we love Amazon, it’s a big company, but they’ve pillaged just about every main street in the state of Maryland,’” Franchot said.

Franchot purchased a pair of bike gloves at Cumberland Trail Connection to go along with a hat he bought earlier in the day at the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 172.

He called Maryland’s mom and pop stores the “backbone of the state’s economy.”

“We’re here to promote shop local,” Franchot said, “which I think is a patriotic thing for all Marylanders around the holiday season to come down and patronize stores just like this one.”

Cumberland Trail Connection, owned by Doug Hutchins, is a full-service bicycle shop and outdoors store that sells and repairs bikes, rents equipment to visitors riding the local trails and offers an array of tents, sleeping bags and other outdoors gear, in addition to homebrewing supplies.

Dawne Lindsey, clerk of Circuit Court for Allegany County, a bike rider and customer, attested to the services the shop offers.

“I bought a beautiful new bike from them; they answer the phone quickly and help me out,” Lindsey said. “... They always give great advice and customer service and I’m very appreciative of that.”

Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss thanked Franchot for coming to Cumberland. “He comes up quite often and really works on the shop local concept, and that’s wonderful because he’s exactly right, that’s what it really takes to keep small communities like ours vibrant communities,” he said.

Hutchins credited his staff for the shop’s success and longevity.

“Without my staff, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” he said. “We’re open 8 (a.m.) to 7 p.m. every day in the summer, which is a lot of hours to be putting in. I enjoy helping people when they come through.”

“What we’re doing here is just bringing peoples’ attention to these brick and mortar stores. ...,” Franchot said. “We just have to make sure people do the right thing and get off the internet, come down and shop local.”

Political future

Outside the bike shop, Franchot touched on some of the other aspects of his trip to Western Maryland, and on a potential run for governor.

“We’re seriously looking at stepping up and, I’m not term limited as comptroller, I love the job, I’m honored to have it, but I have some real vision, I think, as far as fundamentally reforming the state of Maryland’s economy and it’s fiscal policies for the government,” Franchot said.

“So I have a real burning desire to reform the political system to improve the state,” Franchot said. “So yeah, I would say a year from now, (it) will be more likely than not that I will be seriously addressing the next step for me.”

Tourism summit

Earlier in the day, Franchot was at Rocky Gap Casino Resort to speak at the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit, where he discussed tourism’s importance to the state and its economy.

“I came out to Rocky Gap for the Maryland tourism coalition, which is a fabulous statewide group that promotes tourism, he said. “We have tens of millions of visitors from out of state who come in and spend money and visit Maryland, either on business or on pleasure, and it’s a very important component of the state’s economy.”

Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.

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