While growing up in Reisterstown, Bennett Ostroff took pride in the unique offerings of historic Main Street. After moving to Montana at 16, attending college and law school out of state, Ostroff returned home to a much different Main Street than he remembers.
“Not a lot really set our neighborhood apart from other areas in my point of view,” he said.
To highlight places he thought set Reisterstown and Owings Mills apart from other towns, Ostroff started a video blog highlighting local businesses houses of worship. His videos feature Trinity Lutheran Church, Decals, Mindful Freedom Yoga Studio, Constellation Books, The Ski Shoppe, Primera Nazareno Church, Words to Life Ministries and All Saints’ Episcopal Church.
The videos take viewers on tours of the establishments and feature interviews with leaders and business owners.
“I wanted to highlight what I feel is unique are here,” Ostroff said.
He wanted his business videos to highlight information for potential customers such as product selection and parking. For him, knowing the owners are friendly also helps.
“I think shopping local is really important,” he said. “It instills a sense of neighborhood values and I’d like to see more of that.”
He was inspired to shoot houses of worship because of an experience he had growing up. When his family could no longer afford the synagogue they were attending, they didn’t know of many other options. He hopes through his videos he can help people shopping around familiarize themselves with the various worship options in the area.
Although he isn’t religious these days, he was pleasantly surprised by what he learned while making videos for churches.
“All of them have a food bank for the homeless, all of them volunteer downtown for the homeless, hand out medical supplies, clothing, food,” he said. “All of them are very involved in the neighborhood. I was really shocked and really heartened and it changed my viewpoint in a lot of ways.”
Ostroff produces the videos on houses of worship and non-profits for free, and charges $100 for videos of for-profit businesses to offset his costs.
Ultimately, Ostroff would like to see Main Street and the area become a destination for people from outside of town.
“Towson is a shopping destination, Hunt Valley is a shopping destination and I don’t really know why we can’t have that here,” he said.