Hurricanes. Floods. Power outages. Liquid manure.
“We’ve had natural and unnatural disasters,” said Caitlin Mullett, a manager at Sweet Elizabeth Jane, summing up in understatement what has been a disaster-prone year for Main Street.
Despite nature’s wrath and the occasional human misstep, Main Street merchants are heading into the holiday shopping season in good spirits.
“We want everyone who comes here to enjoy it,” Mullett said.
Mullett and many of her neighbors along Main Street say they believe Ellicott City's famous local shops will draw shoppers who can't resist that magic.
They will likely have all but forgotten Hurricane Irene in August and the rushing flood waters down Main Street in September, closing the street briefly.
“Yes, the street was closed, but the stores were open,” said Marissa Jonner, owner of the Little Sunshine Trading Company. “I was open the next day,” she said. Jonner lost some of her Christmas-themed merchandise when her basement flooded, and still, she hardly missed a beat.
“The street in general is largely based on good weather,” Mullet said. “When you see on the news ‘Ellicott City is closed,’ people take that to mean businesses are closed.”
On the day of the flooding, however, people were in Sweet Elizabeth Jane, waiting for the waters to recede, she said. “And, they shopped.”
There were also some human-made problems that hit Main Street this year. With Hurricane Irene, some shops lost electricity, and then there was a short power outage on the day before Thanksgiving, according to Dave Carne, the owner of the Wine Bin.
“Power outages are normal,” Carne said at his shop on Thanksgiving Day.
But then there was the manure. On Sept. 18, a truck carrying liquid manure sprung a leak, emptying some of its contents along Main Street. Pedestrians held their noses and the street was closed to vehicles for a few hours, but the shops stayed open.
“It wasn’t typical,” Carne said, “but things happen.”
“With the economy being what it is, I still lose sleep occasionally,” he said, but he, too was in good spirits. “I think business is good overall on Main Street.”
All along the strip, stores are getting their windows in order for the holidays and preparing for a busy end of the year full of events, including Midnight Madness, Dec. 2 from 6 p.m. - midnight, and Girls Night Out, Dec. 15 from 5 - 9 p.m. which has been growing steadily.
“We love events,” Mullett said, “We go all out.”
That means throughout the holiday season, if you stop into Sweet Elizabeth Jane, or many of the other businesses, you may find yourself face to face with a plate of cookies, drinks or special sales. And maybe even some holiday elves, Mullett said.
"We want it to be magical."