Small Business Saturday brings hope to local shops

November 30, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Shoppers spent nearly ten billion dollars on Black Friday, but that's actually a big drop from a year ago because lots of people shopped on Thanksgiving and Saturday too.

Because Thanksgiving fell so late this year, the shopping season is actually several days shorter, leaving shops both big and small competing hard for every dollar spent.

The holiday shopping season is in full swing. Throngs of people crowded Michigan Avenue, as they have since late Thursday in search of the best deals.

"I'm away at college. This is retail therapy. Getting ready for finals. Shopping," said shopper Adjua Prior.

"Coming out here, having to wrestle to get in front of the line. It was stressful, but I got the bargains that I came for so I was happy," said shopper Christian Bocage.

But for those who don't enjoy shopping as contact sport there is small business Saturday.

"Small businesses are the economic engine of our country," said Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama. "That's where all the jobs are being created."

Created in 2010 as a way to promote shopping small, Small Business Saturday is a campaign that's grown in popularity as more and more people turn to their neighborhood stores for their Christmas shopping needs.

Southport's Uncle Dan's has everything from ski apparel to Guatemalan kick bags.

"You find a lot of unique things that you don't find in the big box store when you shop local," said shopper Glenda Cucinotta.

"The big box stores get plenty of people," shopper Susan Evans said. "It's these stores. They appreciated your business. They go that extra mile for you."

"It keeps customers loyal," said Lee Balkin, Dog-a-Holics. "They like keeping business in their own neighborhoods. It creates a little community vibe."

According to retail experts small businesses also reinvest most of their earnings in the community they serve, and actively participate in neighborhood events.

"It's not us vs. the big box," said Grace Lowery, Uncle Dan's. "We're competing against the internet. It's making sure we add something to the experience they won't get sitting behind a computer."

Cyber Monday is yet to come.

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