Stores on Cambridge Main Street will open early, restaurants will stay open late, and the city will begin the countdown to Christmas with two very important holiday events on November 28 – a day recognized nationally as Small Business Saturday, when people are encouraged to buy holiday gifts from locally-owned small businesses in their communities.

“The number fluctuates, but about close to 70% of the money you spend in local small businesses stays in your community,” said Cambridge Main Street Executive Director Brandon Hesson. “For large, corporate businesses, that number is only around 40%.

“Here in Cambridge, where money and budget restrictions tend to be a major stumbling block for so many great ideas, it is more important now than ever before that people think of downtown businesses this holiday,” he continued.

In 2015, the challenging task of building a revitalized retail center downtown began to take hold. New businesses like Butterfly Boutique and Calista Boutique became part of a landscape that included established businesses Sunnyside Shop, Bliss Jewelry, The Wine Bar, Liv Again Choptank Charlies Emporium and others. On Small Business Saturday, these locations will offer specials and fun sales on mechandise. For example, Sunnyside Shop will offer a “Draw Your Discount” where each customer will shop, and blindly draw their discount out of a box at the register.

“Retail is a tough nut to crack,” said Hesson. “It is difficult to attract them without foot traffic, but it’s hard to have foot traffic without fun stores for people to visit.”

In the cases of Calista and Butterfly Boutique, the established stores should help with ushering in the newer locations.

“I concept of strong competition for shoppers is an old concept,” said Hesson. “The established shops have embraced these new locations because they help bring customers into town, but also because these are local people working on making a difference in their communities.”

Saturday evening, beginning at 5 p.m., A Cambridge Christmas will hold its tree lighting at the Dorchester County Circuit Court. The event will feature traditional Christmas music and Santa Claus.

Afterwards, people are encouraged to walk the block back to downtown. Restaurants and bars will be open with live music, and RAR Brewing will kick off the “Miracle on Poplar” toy drive, which will run until December 19.

Last year, Katie Mae’s Country Shoppe, was able to raise enough gifts for 28 needy households in Cambridge. This year, RAR Brewing, Mid-Shore Graphics, Cambridge Main Street, The Dorchester County Young Professionals and other local businesses have teammed up to help make a difference.
“Last year’s toy drive was a huge success, and it was done at a small level with only one or two businesses contributing,” said Hesson. “This year, everyone is just hoping to provide a great Christmas to youth in our community. If we can reach 50 households, that would be amazing. If we can reach 100, that would be even better.”

Stickers designed and provided by Mid-Shore Graphics will be on sale in downtown locations for three dollars. All money raised will go directly towards the Miracle on Poplar effort, buying gifts or supplies to wrap them.

“This is a community toy drive, for the community, by the community,” said Hesson. “One hundred percent of everything raised will go directly to needy families for Christmas.”

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