Bring the very best that Maryland has to offer home with you. Black Eyed Susan is your destination for gorgeous gifts and tantalizing treats bursting with the colors and themes of The Old Line State. These specialties will evoke memories of relaxing days at the Eastern shore, hikes in the Western mountains, picnic tables filled with steamed crabs, and the joy of spending time with family and friends.
Black Eyed Susan specializes in everything Maryland, including foods, décor, gifts and apparel. Featuring Baltimore’s own Wockenfuss Candies; gourmet nuts and coffees; unique gifts for that special someone and décor for your home. The best of Maryland is right in your own backyard.
My story began after being laid-off as the Gift Shop Buyer/Manager at a Baltimore city hotel after the events of September 11th. In the months to follow, tourists were not flying on planes, staying in hotels nor buying from hotel gift shops. As my General Manager handed me my compensation package after 7 years of running a successful and profitable gift shop, he told me that in addition to all the great local foods and souvenirs that I searched high and low for in my travels to gift fairs, food expos and Baltimore neighborhoods; he really enjoyed my creative and delicious gift baskets made for hotel VIPS, “so much better than a fruit & cheese platter being sent to their rooms”. That was my “AHA” moment…
Self-reflecting on my passions and strengths which was buying, merchandising, marketing, sales and customer service experiences (as my career began as a Buyer for Baltimore’s Hutzler department stores) I got right to work creating an LLC: Black Eyed Susan Gift Baskets; as I like to tell my customers, I’m the “SUSAN” in Black Eyed Susan (Maryland’s state flower.) With my family’s support I turned my basement into a business office, receiving/storage areas and full assembly line; established a website and began making baskets. I sought out any and every opportunity to sell my baskets…fairs, festivals, door-to-door sales – handing out free bags of Utz Crab Chips with my business card attached. My first basket sale was at my sister’s hospital Ladies Auxiliary’s Easter Arts & Crafts sale. The RN who bought my basket for his sister, to this day calls me every year for a gift basket.
It completely validated my business concept and so after six years of steady growth I moved out of my basement during a recession and into a bricks & mortar. I thought it crazy, but the local SBA was providing interest free loans to new businesses and because I chose a historic district, Glyndon, there was additional funding for small businesses . I signed a two year lease at 7 Railroad Avenue, formally the Glyndon Post office and later a general store. It was a 900sf vanilla shell, so the entire loan amount went to building out the space: Flooring, Fixturing, Signage… I opened the doors on Black Friday weekend, 2010 and have never looked back. Black Eyed Susan Coffee Cream & More is not only a one-stop shop for all things Maryland (made in Maryland, distributed in Maryland or carrying a Maryland theme) it’s my gift to the community. My team of 10 employees welcome customers into the shop like it is their home, and I can’t thank them enough for supporting my business by shopping small and local.
In my inaugural year, I was voted by Baltimore Magazine “Best of Baltimore” for Gift Baskets. I have also received several Accommodations from Maryland Senators & Congressmen. On Maryland Day (March 25, 2014) Comptroller Peter Franchot visited my store and presented me with a Certificate of Recognition and a gold coin (a tradition Comptroller Louis Goldstein started in the 1970’s). I have been featured on WJZ TV, MPT as well as in Style Magazine, The Baltimore Sun and other local publications. My dedication to assisting non-profits like the Boy Scouts, Alzheimer’s Association (supporting the longest day fundraiser), the Ronald McDonald house, Baltimore County Public Schools, Sacred Heart Church and a host of other organizations has brought me great joy and purpose. But my greatest accomplishment is inspiring young women and men, including my three children, through my business mentorship program – that they too can take adversity and create positivity. Instead of making lemonade out of lemons, I make baskets out of my love for all things Maryland, and that is why Black Eyed Susan has been called “the welcome mat of Maryland.”