As comptroller, I always support initiatives that strengthen our local businesses and help hardworking taxpayers keep extra cash in their pockets.

More than ever due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am urging everyone to Shop Maryland and Save for the Holidays.

In fact, I am personally challenging everyone to commit to purchasing at least 50% of their holiday gifts from locally owned businesses. I personally plan to buy 100% locally.

Coupled with the ongoing issues with America’s supply chain, there has never been a better time to grab that gift from the shelves of your local retailer while you can. And if you use your Maryland-based credit card to purchase the gift, you’ll save and be rewarded even more.

Are you worried if you purchase your holiday gifts online they may not arrive on time?

Well, shopping locally solves that dilemma. Plus, you get the bonus of personalized attention from your friends, family and neighbors who work there. When you spend your money locally, a larger percentage of that money stays right here in Maryland building back our economy and communities.

With the holiday season upon us, there is no better time to take advantage of abundance of great deals.

I am thrilled to once again partner with Maryland credit unions who are offering fabulous incentives to shop at local businesses and save this holiday season. Each credit union is offering different rewards for its members, so check with your financial institution to see how you can save on interest rates or rack up extra reward points.

Planning your Thanksgiving and holiday feasts? Check out these local establishments for fresh baked goods or custom-cut meats at Cross Street Food and Garden in Galena, Sudlersville Meat Locker or Simmons Center Market in Cambridge. Oh My Chocolate in Stevensville may have just the right sweet treat.

How about one more gift for the kiddos? Crackerjacks Toys in Easton, Trade Whims in St. Michaels and Easton Cycle and Sport may have just the thing. A gift card to Kiln Born Creations in Easton is a great way to spend time with a child or grandchild. And if a pooch is on your list, St. Michaels Pet Supplies has lots to offer.

If you have a big reader on your list, you can’t go wrong stopping The Bookplate in Chestertown, Flying Cloud Booksellers or Vintage Books in Easton and Mystery Loves Company in Oxford.

You can always buy a gift certificate to your favorite locally owned restaurant, brewery, winery, art gallery or live music venue. Or give the gift of visiting one of Maryland’s many museums or the Maryland Zoo or National Aquarium in Baltimore.

I could go on and on, but my point is no matter what or who you’re shopping for, you can purchase it at a local retailer or organization that supports local jobs and invests in the local economy and has the items in stock now.

So as you cross off items on those gift lists — and check it twice — make sure to Shop Maryland and Save for the Holidays.

I personally want to hear about how you Shop Maryland and Save, so email me your stories and photos to pfranchot@marylandtaxes.gov.

Peter Franchot is the 33rd comptroller of Maryland.

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