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WBAL-11 NBC Baltimore: Some Marylanders can get rewards points for shopping local

BALTIMORE — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot on Monday kicked off the state's annual

Shop Maryland for the Holidays campaign, and there's a new financial incentive this year.

The coronavirus pandemic pushed the annual appeal up this year. Franchot called 2020 a

completely weird year economically because of the virus.

"Do the patriotic thing and shop local. Help our small businesses during the pandemic," Franchot


Seven Maryland-based credit unions are offering rewards points for shopping at local businesses

starting now through the end of the year. The State Employees Credit Union of Maryland, the

state's largest credit union, is increasing reward points and lowering interest rates.

"We are very excited to announce, for the first time in our history, we are going to take our

signature rewards credit card and double the rewards," said Dave Sweiderk, SECU's president.

The credit unions joining SECU in offering increased rewards for shopping locally this holiday

season include:

● Five Star of MD Federal Credit Union

● Market USA Federal Credit Union

● Atlantic Financial Federal Credit Union



● Chessie FCU

Other credit union partners will be promoting Shop Maryland for the Holidays without

expanding their existing rewards programs. They include: Central Credit Union of Maryland,

Educational Systems FCU, FRB Federal Credit Union, Transportation FCU and Point Breeze

Credit Union. Check the Comptroller's website for updated offers from partners.

Of the 170,000 small businesses in Maryland, the comptroller's office estimates nearly 18% of

them are in danger of closing permanently.

"My experts estimate that 30,000 have either closed or will close permanently, through no fault

of their own, because of the pandemic, and that's a lot of dreams coming to an end," Franchot


"Your small retailers provide your community with jobs, tax revenue, provide neighborhood

stabilization, philanthropy," said Cailey Locklair, president of the Maryland Retailers


Restaurants may be the most vulnerable to shutting down.

"The most significant thing (customers) could do is purchase a gift certificate from one of their

local restaurants that (they) can use later, that (they) can offer as a gift to (their) friends or

family," said Marshall Weston Jr., president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of


Some restaurants are taking extraordinary steps to make sure dining is safe. Frederick-area

restaurant owner Kelly O'Brien does daily temperature checks on all employees, offers digital,

touch-free menus, offers touchless restroom equipment and has doors that open with the crook of

an arm.

"When you come in and there is a wait, we ask you to wait in your car. We installed systems that

notify you when your table is ready. And we are also getting ready to install high density UV air-

circulating filters. It kind of burns out the virus, so you are safe in the restaurant," O'Brien said.

According to a national survey, 43% of respondents prefer shopping at local retailers than

national chains. Local retailers want that number to go higher this year.

"It has never been more important to have our communities support business on Main Street. We

have been faced with something we never knew how to plan for," said Claudia Towles, owner of

aMuse Toys in Fells Point. "While we have pivoted, innovated, we are still in a position where

we don't know what tomorrow brings."

Retailers put it bluntly: you either buy local or say goodbye to local business.


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