Small Businesses: The Backbone to Small Towns

Small businesses are the backbone of small towns. In a town the size of Frostburg, small businesses are an integral part of society and everyday life. Frostburg’s Main Street and surrounding streets hold many small businesses, one after another. These businesses include Lorenzo’s Frostburg Bakery, Clatter Coffee, Jamaica Junction, Main Street Books, Princess Restaurant, and A Place to Eat. These six businesses are a combination of new and veteran businesses. The veteran businesses are staples in the lives of Frostburg locals and students, and the new businesses are quickly gaining popularity. All of the businesses are within walking distance of the university and they’re only a minute at most from each other.

The Lorenzo's Frostburg Bakery storefront.
The Lorenzo’s Frostburg Bakery storefront.

Lorenzo’s Bakery is located at 10 S. Broadway and should be the first place you stop. Lorenzo’s has been open since 1985 and is owned by Lorenzo and Tammy Seminerio. As soon as you enter the bakery, the smells of baked goods hit you. There is a glass baked goods case filled with different types of food. “We have bread, cakes, cookies. Just a little bit of everything,” Lorenzo Seminerio said about the types of baked goods they make. “A lot of everything.” The bakery is a small but successful staple in Frostburg. Students and locals alike love Lorenzo’s and their baked goods. Ask someone about his donuts; they’re almost sure to know. After Lorenzo’s, there is Clatter Coffee across the street at 15 S. Broadway. Clatter is one of the newest businesses in Frostburg having opened in April of this year. Clatter is owned by Jon and Lesley Felton and according to Morgan Thorhauer, an employee of Clatter, they’re great managers. “The relationship between management and staff is really good,” Thorhauer said. “It’s a really respectful environment. I feel like I’m learning and growing as a person working here.” The atmosphere when walking into Clatter is relaxed and welcoming. The space is small, but it feels very open. Clatter is a good place to take a break for a while, drink some good coffee, and eat some great food. “We’re hiring,” Thorhauer said with a laugh. Clatter is definitely worth checking out, and even though it is newer, it is quickly becoming a fan-favorite of Frostburg.

The Clatter storefront.
The Clatter storefront.

Leaving Clatter and walking up Broadway to Main Street, you’ll soon find another new Frostburg business: Jamaica Junction. Chris Minnick is the general manager at Jamaica Junction. The business opened just last month on Oct. 15. The atmosphere at Jamaica Junction is all inclusive and very care-free. “We get a complete mix of people,” Minnick said. “The most variant mix you could imagine.” Everyone is welcome in Jamaica Junction and there is something for everyone. There are incense sticks and glass-blown pipes on display as soon as you enter the shop. The shop offers many different things and it is definitely a place to visit. Walk next door to Jamaica Junction and find a home in Main Street Books. Main Street Books is a bookstore owned by Fred Powell that has been open since 1989 and has been a second home for many since then. The store is packed floor to ceiling and wall to wall with books of all different genres. The relaxed feel of the business allows the customers to roam freely through the store and browse the books. There is something there for anyone of any age, gender, or reading preference. Kurt Deffinbaugh has been working at Main Street Books since 2000. “It’s a town hub,” Deffinbaugh said. “Working here, I’m an integral part of the town.” Main Street Books is a place where people can meet and bond over books. The place is welcoming and the staff makes you feel at home. Deffinbaugh is extremely appreciative towards his job and his experience with it. “It’s the only place I’ve ever worked where I’m treated like a person instead of a wage slave,” Deffinbaugh said, laughing. Main Street Books has a way of making you feel at home in a sea of books. If you haven’t been to Main Street Books yet, there’s no reason not to go now.

The Princess Restaurant storefront.
The Princess Restaurant storefront.

After finding a good book to read, take a right and head up the street towards the Princess Restaurant. The Princess has been open since 1939 and is owned by Lauren Pappas. The Princess has seen generations of children and families come and go. It is one of the oldest and strongest businesses in Frostburg. “We have a lot of regular customers who have either grown up going here or their grandparents brought them here,” Pappas said. The atmosphere of the Princess is laid back and fun. The inside of the restaurant has historical aspects and it makes you feel like you’re a part of history. Princess is a favorite for locals, but it is also a popular meeting place for students on the weekends. With great food and their famous milkshakes, the Princess is a can’t miss. Leave the Princess and continue going up the street to find A Place to Eat. A Place to Eat is a relatively new business and it’s a Tex-Mex style restaurant. Owned by Chris Aguilar and opened in March of 2012, A Place to Eat has quickly become a popular place to eat. The restaurant is fun and eccentric. There is artwork that covers the walls and makes you feel like you’re eating in a museum. A Place to Eat is a different experience completely, and the food makes the experience even better. The food is all made from scratch. “I love to cook,” said Aguilar. “I’m in a Zen when I’m cooking.” The food is so precisely made, and you can’t go wrong with any of it. Frostburg’s local businesses are the backbone of the town. There are so many businesses to see and experience.

A Place to Eat's window.
A Place to Eat’s window.

The majority of the patrons that go to many of the local businesses are Frostburg locals. However, the student population still adds to the businesses. “I see a handful of students often over a couple years,” Deffinbaugh said. There are mostly locals and professors from the university that go to Main Street Books, but students still make an impact. The student population tends to contribute more than they think. “The best part of having business in Frostburg is that it’s close to the college,” Minnick said. “Weekends seem to be the best time in general.” The businesses like having the college students around, especially during the weekends. The Princess tends to draw in mostly locals, except for on the weekends, but Lauren Pappas claims things slow down when the students aren’t there. “It’s definitely a boost when they’re here,” Pappas said. “It always helps when there’s an extra few thousand people.” Chris Aguilar notes that he doesn’t get a lot of college students in his restaurant. “There’s usually an imaginary line from Gianni’s down. That’s where the students are,” Aguilar said. “Gianni’s up is locals.” Even though A Place to Eat doesn’t see very many students, the students that do go there are still made to feel at home. “The people in the whole community are great,” Aguilar says. Each business owner experiences different things in regard to the demographics they reach. The Frostburg community as a whole, however, benefits from them all.

The Jamaica Junction sign.
The Jamaica Junction sign.

Running a small business can be taxing. These people who work at or own small businesses each find that they have different struggles and triumphs in their field. “I’m just trying to figure it out and make everybody happy,” Lorenzo Seminerio said. Seminerio had some advice when it came to starting a business. “Make sure you like what you’re gonna do,” Seminerio said. “If you don’t like what you’re going to do, it’s not going to do you no good.” Sometimes it comes down to what you want to get out of your field. Deffinbaugh enjoys honing and using his social skills. “This is the best job I’ll ever have in my life,” Deffinbaugh said. “The real focus of the job is interacting with people and making a place where people want to come into.” Owning and running a business requires a lot of hard work and determination. Chris Aguilar noted how it’s intense work. “For someone to do this every day, it takes a different type of person,” Aguilar said. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew unless you have a lot of support around you.” It’s extremely important to have the support of others when running a business, but sometimes the owners just have to do it all. “Don’t try to plan too much,” Pappas said about running a business. “Day to day, you don’t know what’s going to be thrown your way. You’re at the mercy of everyone else.” Even though the job can be intense and stressful, it is absolutely fulfilling as well. “It’s challenging every day,” Pappas said. “It’s rewarding because it’s been in my family for so long. For me, it was keeping the tradition around.”

The Main Street Books storefront.
The Main Street Books storefront.

Small businesses are the backbone of small towns. These six businesses and these six hardworking people know what it’s like to be a part of something small, but bigger than themselves. It’s rewarding and something most people strive to attain. Even though it may seem easy, think about what goes on behind the scenes next time you’re in a small business. “Small businesses are a hard thing to be in,” Lauren Pappas said. “You have to have a lot of patience and be ready for anything that might come at you.”

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