ELKTON — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot celebrated downtown businesses Purnell Body Shop, Teal Antler Boutique and Elk River Brewing Company this week with commendations, touting the thriving small businesses in Elkton.

Franchot was joined by local and county dignitaries on his short tour of Cecil County’s seat as he stopped to issue many honors along the way. The comptroller presented David Coleman, owner of Purnell Body Shop, and his family with the Cornerstone Award for Local Business Excellence on Tuesday afternoon.

The comptroller noted that Maryland is one of the richest states in the nation, based on the census data, with 70% of Maryland’s wealth coming from small businesses. Without local shops like Purnell Body Shop keeping their doors open, Franchot said that the state would look drastically different.

“I want to thank the Colemans for having this fabulous family-owned business. Without you, we would not have public safety, no schools, no highways, no nothing,” he said. “We’d just have a bunch of beat-up cars. We appreciate what they represent.”

Coleman first started there as a body technician in 1982 after he came out of high school. The body paint shop was built in 1988, and he was able to buy into the business shortly afterward. Today, he oversees two dozen employees based at his Blue Ball Avenue location.

“It’s really a great, dedicated group of people,” Coleman said.

Later, Franchot went onto to issue a proclamation to the Teal Antler Boutique, a clothing and retail store on West Main Street, to highlight Maryland’s Tax Free Shopping Week where the state waves the 6% sales tax on apparel and footwear purchases under $100.

Maryland’s Tax Free Shopping Week, which also applies on online sales, continues until midnight on Aug. 17.

“The state is going to give $6 million this week in tax forgiveness, but we make it up and we trust that the season is going to pick it up,” Franchot said. “This has become the second or third most popular shopping week in the year.”

The Teal Antler started as Brittany Spies’ online business with women’s clothing, accessories and gifts, but later opened a brick-and-mortar business last fall. The store will be celebrating its first anniversary soon.

Register of Wills Lyn Nickle thanked the management of the shop for opening its doors on West Main Street, noting that local businesses were the lifeblood of communities like Elkton.

“Elkton is really getting turned around and it’s from people that are willing to take the risk and come in and open a wonderful business like this,” she said.

Christina Hinch, manager of the Teal Antler, thanked the comptroller for choosing their establishment to celebrate tax free shopping.

“We’re really excited about being here for our business. It’s definitely something that’s full of growth and we’ve had a great showing here so far. We’re excited to stay here and grow with the community as well,” Hinch said.

On his final stop, Franchot went to Elk River Brewing Company where he was met with a packed bar of county and local politicians for a happy hour. He was given an Elk River Brewing Company mug, and an Elk River IPA to fill it up.

The comptroller toasted the microbrewery, noting that there are more than 100 breweries in Maryland, and in a few years that number will grow.

“I guarantee you, this is good for the state of Maryland. These breweries are owned by Marylanders, employ Marylanders and use Maryland agriculture product in its production,” Franchot said. “These folks represent a five to six times economic return, because the money circulates locally — and out-of-state beer doesn’t taste as good.”

Elk River Brewing Company owner Brad Carrillo gave the comptroller a personalized shirt, one he made well in advance. He said he had one made for Gov. Larry Hogan if he ever visited the brewery in Elkton.

“From a business owner, it’s truly special to have someone like you come visit us in any fashion — and to share a happy hour with the people that really like these places,” Carrillo said.

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