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Ellicott City Update: Just in Time for the Holidays

Since a massive flood struck Old Ellicott City this past summer, many shoppers have wondered about the status of stores there and whether the charming downtown will host its annual Midnight Madness holiday kickoff. Not only is the event happening, it’s celebrating its 40th anniversary. And store owners say they will be as festive as any year.

“Ellicott City definitely needs people to remember we are still here,” says Kate Bowman, owner of Clipper’s Canine Café.

“A lot of stores are opening up, but it’s slower for us than it’s been before. There’s a lot of us that are here and open and want to see people. I know we are trying to plan all kinds of fun things for the holidays, so we would love to see people like we have in the past.”

Clipper’s carries a great selection of customized canine coats, all natural pet foods, supplements and gourmet bakery treats. Every year, Bowman also makes ornaments and fills them with doggie treats. Proceeds from those sales go to a local animal rescue.

Sweet Cascade Chocolatiers is open, too, with all kinds of handmade treats, including truffles and chocolate-covered Twinkies. Holiday offerings include chocolate Santas, sleds and reindeer — and something called the “cup of nog,” owner Sue Whary says. “That’s a seasonal truffle. It’s a dark chocolate cup and we pipe in a milk chocolate ganache that has eggnog in it.”

As for Midnight Madness, Whary says she can’t wait to take part in the festivities.

“It’s such a great time. It’s festive and it’s a big party,” she says. “It’s a kick-off to the holidays. The community support we have down here on Main Street is just great. ”

For gifts that don’t fall in the edible category, there is Sweet Elizabeth Jane. This two-story shop is open and offers an eclectic mix of women’s clothing, home décor items, books and seasonal merchandise, including new outerwear, accessories, even hand carved Bavarian cottages and Christmas-themed ornaments.

Owner Tammy Beidman said the flooding was an opportunity to start fresh and  come back stronger.

There were, of course, hardships along the way.

“After the first flood, we reopened and we were really busy, but it was hard,” she says. “We were moving to a new location, things were uprooted, but the community was really supportive.”

After the second flood, a revamp of the store was in order.

“We had to shut down the store for a month,” she says. “We couldn’t reopen because the town was shut down and there was no way for people to get here. We kind of reversed the floors in the store. We had all of the apparel downstairs and all of our home and fun novelties upstairs. We switched it to sort of bring the tourists back and we have seen a really good response.”

Beidman said she has been participating in Midnight Madness for the last nine years, and her excitement for this year is no different. “It’s really fun,” she says. “You can feel the energy and the whole community comes to town. It’s just a really festive feeling.”

Midnight Madness will begin today, from 6 p.m. to 12: 30 a.m. visitoldellicottcity.com

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