Happening this week around the county …

Some businesses in Cecil County are helping each other get through the pandemic.

Be Free Boutique, owned by Christie Stephens, is holding a holiday pop-up shopping event at Granite Run Taproom in Port Deposit Thursday from 4 until 9 p.m. The opportunity came by invitation from Jason Usilton, the owner of the restaurant at 26 South Main St.

“I thought it would be cool to give other small businesses a space to sell their items. We have the stage space in our restaurant that usually sits empty during the week, so why not use it to help others out and potentially bring us some new customers,” Usilton said. “This has been a tough year on small businesses, so I’ll do whatever I can to help out as many people as I can.”

Dubbing it “Small Business Christmas,” Usilton will host Treats By Zeets, a pet boutique in North East, Dec. 8 and Krystal Moyer will be on deck Dec. 16 with her delicious cake pops.

Stephens, a Conowingo resident, only recently started her online store but already has a list of loyal shoppers. Now she is going to show off her clothing, decor and accessories face to face to Usilton’s customers.

She is working on finding a brick-and-mortar location but until then she said this is what will likely be the first of many pop-ups. If you want a heads up on future pop ups check out Be Free Boutique on Facebook.

Usilton hopes to have more pop-ups at Granite Run Taproom.


The Golden Mule on Route 1 in Rising Sun can no longer have outside music after a decision made by the Cecil County Board of License Commissioners.

After hearing from neighbors of the tavern the liquor board voted unanimously last week that owner Larry McElroy must contain his musicians indoors.

“Several months ago we had a 30-day approval for outside music,” said Earl Bradford, director of the liquor board. In August McElroy agreed with the governing body that the music he had was even too loud for him. He agreed to tone it down to acoustic performances and no more than two musicians at a time.

However on Sept. 19 his plan backfired.

“I arrived around 6:20 p.m. The music was being played at a very low level,” he recalled. Ten minutes later the live musician started. “That music was extremely loud.”

McElroy admitted he did not “do adequate vetting” of that particular act.

Bradford asked him if he’d had any communications with his neighbors, many of whom had stated in the past that they wanted The Golden Mule to succeed.

“I got an email from one neighbor and I apologized. It was the only conversation I had,” McElroy said. Bradford noted his office got more than one complaint.

Steve Miller, liquor board chair, also got calls from all the families living closest to the tavern.

“You’re never going to satisfy them,” Miller said.

Now with colder temperatures setting in, McElroy said outdoor entertainment is on hold anyway. Nonetheless the board voted to prevent him for doing so in the future.


Cash’s Woodshop was borne from the changes brought on by the pandemic.

“I had to work with my dad,” Cash Vanderhoef, 15, said. His dad is Jeremy Vanderhoef, owner of Vanderhoef Builders. “I discovered I love working with my hands.”

The skills he learned has launched Cash’s Woodshop where Vanderhoef transforms raw slabs of wood into everything from charcuterie boards to tables. However it started when his sisters struggled with the most basic needs when the pandemic closed down schools.

“My sisters panicked when COVID hit,” he said, adding each expressed a need for a place to continue schooling and study. “I made them a desk. Then I started making them and selling them.”

The thick slab top sits on steel pipe legs for a rustic-meets-industrial vibe. He does it all from selecting the wood to sanding to applying the coats of polyurethane.

“I hate sanding. It’s time consuming, but you want the perfect piece,” he said. The wood comes from local sources, mostly black walnut and cherry.

Vanderhoef recently got his hands on a lathe and is working on his turning skills, which started in shop class at Oxford High School. Add wooden bowls to his product line.

He plans to buy a laser engraver and wants to learn welding so he can do more in Cash’s Woodshop.

You can reach Vanderhoef through his Cash’s Woodshop Facebook page or send a text to 610-470-3253.


You know how COVID has affected your business.

On Dec. 4 join a free Zoom conference sponsored by the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland and featuring Comptroller Peter Franchot and Anirban Basu chairman and CEO of Sage Policy for a discussion of “Why Maryland’s Future Economy Needs Manufacturing.”

Among the discussion points will be how the virus has changed the economic landscape and why manufacturing needs to become a priority.

Anyone needing more information should contact Stacey Smith at 443-844-0047.


Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is offering free online small business seminars every Tuesday and Thursday with the next one Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Business expert and best-selling author Jeffrey Hayzlett will discuss “The Hero Factor; How to Transform Your Business and Create a Winning Culture.”

The Dec. 8 offering is “The Five Step Marketing Strategy During a Pandemic.” Cheri Bales, SCORE mentor, will lead that discussion at 1 p.m.

Future topics include tips to save money on credit card charges and selling through social media.


Get your pictures with Santa Friday at Chesapeake Bay Coffee Co.

The right jolly old elf will be available from noon until 4 p.m. in a special place built just for his visit at 130 South Main St. in North East.

Bring your camera and the kids for a safe, social distant visit. Kids will be seated on a red bench where they can meet and talk with Santa.

For more information call Chesapeake Bay Coffee Co. at 410-656-7106.


Coopers Market on Old Chestnut Road in Elkton will be transformed into an open-air Christmas Market Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2.

Browse and shop from local artists offering handmade, painted and created items as well as greenery from The Old Dusty Cupboard and Elk River Primitives.

You’ll find the Christmas Market at 199 Old Chestnut Road.


Holders of stock in Fulton Financial Corporation will get a special dividend this month; a gift from the board of directors.

The board voted to pay 4 cents per share to stockholders of record as of Dec. 7. Payment will be disbursed Dec. 17. Stockholders already received four quarterly dividend payments this year of 13 cents each.


Newport Hospitality Group has been selected to manage the Hampton Inn in Elkton and Fairfield Inn and Suites in Wilmington, Del.

“We are delighted to add these properties to the rapidly growing Newport family. We are confident that these hotels will excel under our management,” said Wayne West, Newport President.

Based in Williamsburg, Va., Newport Hospitality Group manages 50 hotels across the United States. Along with independent boutique hotels the company also manages for chains including Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Choice, Wyndham, and Intercontinental Hotel Group.


Susquehanna Workforce Network is hosting another Virtual Hiring Event Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. until 11:30. Learn about the many career opportunities from companies including Areas USA, Beacon Staffing Alternatives, Gordon Food Service, M&T Bank, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, Wegman’s, Lorien in Bel Air and Plastipak.

Go to swnetwork.org and click on the virtual hiring event link at the top of the home page to register for this free event. After registering you will receive the link.

You will be seen during this virtual hiring event so dress to impress and have your resume package available to send upon request.


Pell Gardens in Chesapeake City will be transformed Saturday into a German-style Christmas Market with 30 artists and craftsmen offering their holiday-themed wares and gifts.

The Poplar Hall Christmas Market, now in its 4th year, has been such a success that in 2018 it was listed among the top 50 Christmas Markets in America by Food and Wine Magazine.

Greg Shelton, event chairman, said now more than ever folks need to be able to have fun activities and events that are also safe in this age of pandemic protection.

“The vendors will be socially distanced,” he said. Since it’s an outdoor market it is safer than an indoor event, he added. Mask wearing is still required as you browse at each booth.

All the shops, boutiques and restaurants in Chesapeake City will also be open to welcome you. Walk through this historic town and enjoy the lights, decorations and sounds.

Even if your holiday shopping is complete still come and enjoy the entertainment, Shelton said.

“We’ll have special live concert performances by New Jersey’s own recording artists “Hotsy Totsy” and local performers Zach Lockwood, Olivia Long and from Wilmington DE, Cheynne Banks,” Shelton said.

To participate in the Poplar Hall Christmas Market vendors have to sell only handmade items and be present in case the buyer wants to meet the artist, Shelton said.

Business Beat is a weekly column on business happenings in and around Cecil County. If interested in having your business featured in this column, contact Jane Bellmyer at jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com or 443-245-5007.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.