by Lisa Tome
"It's been a wild ride."
That's how Margie Blystone, one fourth of the owners of Downtown Elkton's The Palette & The Page, summed up the five-year journey from temporary to flagship business in the town. The partners are Blystone, Lynn Whitt, Janet Youse, and Patti Paulus.
"When it started, it was just going to be six artists for a month and a half," said Blystone. "And for the first year, we had no phone, no credit/card machine, and no bank account."
The little business that could has come a long way since those humble beginnings five years ago. And on December 2, The Palette & The Page will be honored by the Elkton Chamber & Alliance as the Small Business of the Year. That award is voted on annually by chamber members.
Blystone said it's a partnership which was built on faith - four women who did not know each other previously brought different talents to the table.
"Lynn Whitt came on and was a Godsend. She came on as a jeweler but she has a legal and law background. (With her help) in January 2011, we became an LLC," said Blystone.
In 2009, the business, at 120 East Main Street, started First Fridays in Elkton. That led to spin off events and the very popular annual Holiday Cookie Throwdown which lets people vote for a favorite cookie.
"Patti Paulus has been instrumental in bringing all the artists together. She manages all the artists," said Blystone. Nearly 30 artists and a dozen authors are represented at the shop.
"Janet Youse manages all the books. We don't have bookstores in the area, so that is a big draw for the store and they are all 50-70 percent off the cover prices," said Blystone.
The business started with a concept from Elkton Main Street Manager Mary Jo Jablonski, supportive property owners John and Karen Boyd, and a $100 contribution from each of the artist/owners.
"It has been good. I never could have foreseen this," said Blystone, who served as the facilitator of the concept from the start. "There has been a lot of dedication from the owners.
"We're very honored and very excited. We just met the criteria (for the Small Business of the Year Award) with five years," said Blystone, who had nominated another business for the honor this year.
The 2,000 square foot store front features a number of separate galleries with jewelry, pottery, woodworking, photography, paintings, soap and body products, pens, baby clothes, and more. All the items are handmade.
"You're know you're getting a one of a kind item here," said Blystone.
In addition to winning the award, The Palette & The Page has also created a new business. Three artists from there are spinning off into a neighboring store. Blystone said that can only serve as a catalyst to get more people to the downtown.
The Palette & The Page is open 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday and is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Beginning December 1, for the holidays, the store will be open Monday-Thursday 11 am. until p.m. Fridays 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
To attend the awards banquet for the business call 410-398-5076 or email info@elktonalliance.