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Annapolis Shops Prepare To Feed Lawmakers

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By SHANTE WOODARDS
The Capital of Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — At this point, no one knows how much soup or how many vitamin supplements Maryland lawmakers will need. But the Annapolis Organic Market will be prepared.

The shop — within Market House — is one the downtown businesses expecting the annual winter boost thanks to the return of the Maryland General Assembly.

Every year nearly 200 lawmakers — plus lobbyists, citizen activists and staffers — come to town for 90 days, providing businesses an offseason bump.

The 2014 legislative session is the first for which the overhauled Market House has been open.

Last year, by the time the vendors opened there, it was September and the lawmakers were long gone.

“We’re hoping it’s going to do well for us. It’ll be more bodies and more people,” said Shawn Steele, assistant manager of the Annapolis Organic Market.

“We’re going to stay stocked and take care of what they need. A lot of them have houses in the area, so if they stay there we’d like to provide household goods too.”

Area businesses are eager to respond to the needs of lawmakers and legislative staff by extending offers, offering promotions and heading to the State House, the Lowe House Office Building and Miller Senate Office Building with coupons and samples.

While lawmakers are in town, Main Street’s Alpaca International extends shop hours till 7 p.m. during the week and 9 p.m. on the weekends.

“In January, the bulk of our revenue is going to come from the session, and we definitely cater to many of them,” owner Zia Boccaccio said. “We know sometimes people like to come in after meetings or after work.”

Roughly a week into the session area business owners hadn’t noticed a major change, but ascribed it largely to the cold and rainy weather.

Still, Amsterdam Falafelshop owner Amrish Vyas has kept his eye on the legislative receptions and has been hoping for the best. The politicians, Vyas said, seem to enjoy his salad bowls because they can take them back to the office.

“There’s been a little bit of a bump, but the weather is not cooperating,” said Vyas, whose shop is in Market House. “They are not finding the motivation to walk from State Circle to Market House because it’s so cold. It’s not a real bump, but a little bit of trickle traffic.”

This is the second session for Main Street’s My Favorite Muffin, which sells specialty breakfast and lunch sandwiches. The staff anticipates a boost by the end of the month, since they sent about 200 menus and coupons to lawmakers.

“With the cold days and the snow, people don’t really tend to come downtown too often,” said Missy Maglin, who owns the shop with her husband, Mark.

During the session, Maglin said, “we have a lot of interns come in for breakfast before they report to work that day, and there are office workers who pick up lunch for senators. It’s a whole group that’s not typically here the rest of the year.”

Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://capitalgazette.com

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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