"Have a nice day," many people say. Bonnie Craig prefers "Have a Sky High Day."
In Craig's world, the phrase is not just a salutation. It is her life.
She is the founder and owner of Bonnie Craig's Sky High Promotions, a small business in Upper Marlboro that specializes in emblazoning logos on such products as tote bags, beach balls, wedding plates and pens.
Craig, 56, who runs the business by herself, boasts a client list of 500. But it's another trait that distinguishes her operation from many other small businesses in Prince George's County: longevity.
Craig's business is one of the few along Main Street in downtown Upper Marlboro that has not only survived, but thrived.
"People are so used to me being here," Craig said.
They're also used to her energy and dedication.
"She's vivacious and friendly," said Liz Casto, executive director of the county's Board of Trade, which serves small businesses.
Craig is unique in Upper Marlboro in that she does not run a restaurant, law office or bail bondsman's office, the businesses most commonly found in the county seat.
In addition to making and selling snappy paraphernalia, Craig works hard at being involved in the local business community. She is an active member of the Prince George's County Board of Trade. A native of Southern Maryland, she now lives on Kent Island and is also involved in Prince George's public relations associations and various local philanthropic organizations.
Craig's decision to establish a business in the county was not entirely by design. In the mid-1980s, she took on part-time work printing sayings on knickknacks. She liked the work well enough to strike out on her own. She set up shop in her parents' Waldorf garage. While working full time as a paralegal in the District, Craig also made time for her promotions business. She spent nights at her public library researching ways to build a business. She solicited clients through family, friends and word of mouth.
When her business grew beyond the walls of her parents' garage and her car trunk, she quit her paralegal job and in 1990 moved Sky High Promotions to a small corner shop in Upper Marlboro.
Her shop, which is made up of two rooms, is filled with her many projects. There's an oversize piece of recycled plastic in the corner shaped like a cupped hand; it's actually a chair. There is also an assortment of key chains, as well as a multicolored football, coffee mugs and pens and pencils, all of which can be ordered and personalized. She picks up a pen that is shaped like an airplane and has a rotating propeller.
"How seriously can you take yourself in this?" Craig said with a laugh as she pointed out items that have made her business successful. "People used to just sit at their desks and do their jobs. Now they want to be entertained; they want to play." Connie Fuksa, president of Foote Title Group, a real estate settlement business in Waldorf, likes Craig's product and approach.
"She's always a ball of energy," said Fuksa, a longtime client of Craig's.
Nancy Weiman, marketing director for Show Place Arena and a client of Craig's for six years, agrees.
"She's always positive and very upbeat," Weiman said. "It's nice to work with somebody like that who makes you feel good, too." Craig's enthusiasm for her work and commitment to her community have earned her awards, including the county's Small Business of the Year award from the Board of Trade in 1996.
The recognition is nice, but it is serving the county's residents and businesses, as well as her clients elsewhere, that make what she does rewarding.
She recalled an encounter with a client that always makes her smile. A client, she said, had ordered inflatable pillows, each in the shape of a tooth, for a state dental association event. "How can you have a bad day when you're blowing up teeth?''