October is National Women’s Small Business Month

One of Garrett County’s best attributes is the number of small businesses that thrive here. While many are the traditional “mom and pop” and family owned businesses, more and more of area business are women owned. On Thursday, October 17th, 2019, AAUW-Garrett Branch will recognize all local women business owners with a celebration at Cornish Café in Oakland, MD, 6-8pm.

October is National Women’s Small Business Month, a time to recognize and applaud the talented, dedicated and driven women whose entrepreneurial spirit helps drive our nation’s economy forward. There is a higher percentage of women-owned businesses in Garrett County than the Maryland state average, with an especially high number of women-owned businesses located in downtown Oakland.

As with most social revolutions, the role of women in small business has come a long way in the past decades. According to the National Women’s Business Council, as recently as the 1950’s, women needed a male co-signor to take out any loan and other equality issues made business ownership more difficult for women of any age or race. After the passage of The Women’s Business Ownership Act in 1988, the number of female owned businesses soared nationally from 4.1 million in 1987 to 12.2 million today.

AAUW member and local business owner M. Kendall Ludwig commented, “This past April, Chelsea Stuck and I opened our shared storefront for CurlyRed and Craeve & Co. on Alder Street in downtown Oakland. We quickly realized (and were somewhat shocked) that almost every single other storefront around us was owned by a woman. It seems like such a remarkable thing that in our rural area one would find so many successful female CEOs. It was a no-brainer to put together an event to celebrate these amazing women!”

While Kendall is one of the newest female business owners in the area, moving her business and family from Baltimore a few years ago, she is in esteemed company. As owner of The Book Mark’et and Antique Mezzanine on Second Street, local Judy Devlin recently celebrated her 40th year in business in Oakland, believed to be the longest continually operated woman owned business in the county. As most small business owners, Judy started with a passion, a dream and a lot of hard work.

Very few small businesses survive their first five year in business, but many women, successful once, go on to expand and even open new businesses. Local legend Brenda McDonnell came to Garrett County 30 years ago with an incredible work ethic and a desire to re-create the delicious pizza she could find in her beloved hometown of New York City. She started with a partner and founded Dominick’s Pizza in the late 1980’s but has since opened not one, but three successful businesses in Garrett County: Brenda’s Pizzeria, Traders Coffee House and Ace’s Run Restaurant and Pub, all at Deep Creek Lake.

Says Deep Creek Fitness owner Kathy Moran, “Owning a small business for the past 10 years has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I have ever experienced. After raising a family, I felt called to do something that would challenge me and help others. I decided to open Deep Creek Fitness in 2009. I learned about the financial aspects by listening to my husband Rick who has owned and operated his own business for over 30 years and then learned about what success feels like when I listened to my customers. Success to me means having people look forward to feeling good about themselves when they walk through your door!

Fireside Wine & Deli Shoppe owner Maryellen Miller also celebrated an anniversary recently–15 years. Combining her passion for wine and good food to form a unique business, she also credits her customers for her success. “The Fireside Deli and Wine Shop opened its doors on September 18, 2004. What a wild ride it’s been! So many firsts for me with plenty of ups and downs. But the pleasure outweighs the aggravation and the Fireside family is something I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. I thank them all for their support, love care and being far more than customers. I could never have made it without them.”

AAUW-Garrett is inviting all women business owners and interested parties to attend. It is being held at the Cornish Cafe in downtown Oakland, owned by another female — Emily Berry. The event begins at 6 PM and features light appetizers created by Emily and her team at Cornish Cafe along with a cash bar. Tickets are $12 per person (plus fees) and are available online in advance at www.aauw-gc.eventbrite.com. You can also find more information at AAUW-Garrett’s Facebook page.