By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– While you’re making your holiday shopping list, don’t forget to include your local businesses as a source for buying those gifts.

For example, there are advantages to shopping at Belle Hardware in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill.

“If you walk down our aisle and you pick something up and ask one of the people here what does this do, they’re going to be able to answer you,” said owner Mickey Fried. “They’re not going to send you to somebody in aisle six.”

Comptroller Peter Franchot bought light bulbs, but bulbs weren’t the primary purpose of Franchot’s visit to Belle Hardware. The state’s tax man has a holiday habit of shopping local, which he encourages everyone to do.

“This month of December is crucial for these small family-owned businesses that we appreciate a lot in the state of Maryland,” Franchot said.

Fried’s family business has been in Bolton Hill for 40 years.

“There is an old saying that about when you do what you love you never have to work a day in your life. That’s not entirely true but I’m very proud of the work I do,” he said.

Franchot honored Belle Hardware for “outstanding product knowledge and excellent quality service to your customers throughout the area reflects that care displayed by everyone throughout the company.”

According to the comptroller, 70 percent of Maryland’s $350 billion economy is attributed to small business.

“And then the Christmas season is a time when everyone gets so rushed they get on the internet and order presents,” said Franchot. “They ought to come down here. If they want to make me happy they’ll buy me something for my toolkit.”

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