He Does Windows, Too CARROLL COUNTY

June 18, 1993

You have to hand it to Craig Taylor, the new president of the Sykesville Business Association. He made the town's business people an offer they couldn't refuse: Join the organization, and he'd wash their storefront windows for free.

Sykesville businessmen and businesswomen apparently recognize value. Within five days, 14 businesses signed up as members. The formerly moribund association now has 22 members, but Mr. Taylor's main goal isn't just prettier glass: It's to have all Sykesville businesses join his organization by next week.

The lesson that can be drawn from this is that an organization that's vibrant and essential will continue to exist.

A century ago, for example, the small population of Carroll County supported dozens of fraternal lodges. But people lost interest in these groups because they no longer met their needs. The area once needed organizations that served as gathering places for the rural population. They provided fellowship, entertainment and promoted good civic conduct. Groups such as the Improved Order of the Odd Fellows, Improved Order of Mechanics, Patriotic Order of the Sons of America and the Sons of Temperance also provided services such as burial insurance and death benefits for widows. Some even maintained retirement homes.

But as more people moved from the solitary work of farming into factories, offices and shops, social needs changed. Residents no longer needed organizations to interact with people because they were seeing them at work. Insurance companies also reduced the need for the mutual insurance these fraternal groups offered. As a result, membership dwindled and many lodge halls closed.

It appears that the Sykesville Business Association, with its current leadership, isn't headed for extinction. Mr. Taylor's proposals are attractive to many merchants, who previously felt the association wasn't providing much return for their $30 annual dues. By staging a spring flower mart and a Christmas festival, Mr. Taylor hopes to create an atmosphere in the town's business core that will attract shoppers and possibly rival popular Ellicott City. Mr. Taylor seems to have some incisive visions for downtown Sykesville, and not just because it's easier now to see through many of the storefront windows there.

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