Main Street Maryland Program Q&A with Sophie Smith, Brunswick Main Street Manager

Can you tell us about the Main Street Maryland Program and what it means to manage the Main Street in Brunswick?  What role and responsibilities do you have in your community?

Brunswick Main Street is one of over 1,600 Main Street communities in America and one of 30 Main Street communities here in Maryland. We are part of a nationwide program that believes in historic downtowns and the important role they play in building and harnessing community identity. Brunswick Main Street is downtown Brunswick’s biggest advocate for its business owners, for its appearance, for its preservation and for its growth. Our organization does everything from town tourism and marketing, to business development, to streetscaping projects, to event coordination. Sometimes, I am just a friendly listener for a business trying to figure out how to make it work. Other times, I am the volunteer that goes out to pick up trash off the sidewalks. Ultimately, I love our downtown and just want to see it reach its fullest potential.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love working with the business owners. They are some of the most humble and good-hearted people I know! Watching them grow through their shortcomings, or celebrate their successes, is hands down the most rewarding part of my job. I am so proud of them - for all they have accomplished so far and for the ones they have yet to achieve.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

One of the things I love most about Brunswick and our community is how passionate we are about…everything! Our community cares so deeply for Brunswick and we all have great ideas on how we can help it continue to grow. But sometimes, those ideas clash or don’t seem perfect to everyone and it is hard to keep everyone happy. Our Main Street Board considers everything we do from as many angles as possible, but sometimes we still forget something or don’t see something in the same light as others. It takes a lot of bravery to keep trying new ideas and refusing to give up!

What has been your biggest accomplishment?

I think my biggest accomplishment has been gaining the confidence of some of the business owners, community members, and City and Council members. This has been so vital in my role here at BMS. I have been able to have some really important conversations that have informed the way I do things as the Brunswick Main Street Manager, and I would not have been able to do that without their trust.

What is the vibe of your Main Street?

Our Main Street is for the kids who want to play safely in the park and can do so because this community is like family. We are for the business owners who want to explore something new and go out on a limb, for the history buffs who are crazy about trains, and for the bike enthusiasts who just want a burger and a shake (and maybe a beer). We’ve got hills, stores and open doors! Our Main Street is all about gumption and spirit. We are close-knit – and we have a 6,000 member Facebook group to prove it! We are the town filled with people who care endlessly about our community and we are so excited to watch our downtown grow.

What are three things that you think people should know about your Main Street but probably don’t?

  1. 59% of our downtown businesses are owned by women and minorities.
  2. Our downtown is within four miles of the Appalachian Trail.
  3. Brunswick used to be called “Eel Town” for all the eel fished by the Susquehanna Indians.

What do you love to do for fun in Brunswick?

I love eating my lunch outside in Square Corner Park. The charming mural, pretty trees and little gazebo area make it such a quaint place to be! Plus, I always run into people I know passing by – so no two lunches are the same.

What is your vision for the future of your Main Street?

I picture downtown Brunswick as the central hub for prospering businesses, good food, great entertainment and packed to the brim with historic charm. I envision our city-center to be a place where people want to spend time and enjoy all we have to offer! We have big plans here at Brunswick Main Street – so be sure to stay tuned!