KTVE NEWS -- Sometimes the first thing to come to mind when thinking about Black Friday is the long lines or the tents camped outside the retail giants.
But do you also think about small businesses?
Small Business Saturday is this week and local shops want folks to know how they are just as much a part of the holiday shopping experience.
Small businesses sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping.
"A lot of times we can't compete with big box stores," said Karen Laban, owner of the Spice & Tea Exchange in West Monroe.
But it's important to think locally, too
"Certainly they are the heart and soul of a community," said Courtney Hornsby with the West Monroe/West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce. "These small ma and pop shops really rely on our local customers to support them."
This weekend, November 30 is Small Business Saturday, a movement started three years ago to give local shops a boost.
"So on this one day if not in the entire year, we encourage our consumers to really focus on shopping local and shopping in those small businesses," said Hornsby.
"We all have something for everyone, and it's different presents than what you would find at say, the mall or some big retail store," said Lucy Brantley, owner of Cricket Beaux Bicket in West Monroe.
Small businesses support the local non-profits, schools, even roads and parks through the sales tax.
"We do a lot of sponsorships for schools, ULM, and all the local high schools and elementary schools," said Courtney Avis, owner of Bayou Gypsy and Bayou Beaux in Monroe. "We try to give back to our community as well and it just kind of comes back as a full circle."
The National Retail Federation expects up to 140 million people to shop. Small business owners say you're not a number or a spreadsheet to them.
"Day to day we usually know the customers that are coming in, we kind of know what they're looking for. We have a chance to chat with them," said Laban. "It really helps to support the local community because all of your dollars are staying local."
Experts say small businesses also hire the majority of employees across the U.S.
"Your small businesses employ your neighbors and your friends. Often buying their materials and supplies here locally and certainly they're tax dollars go back into the local economy," said Hornsby.
"A lot of us are just ma and pop shops a lot of the small stores down here don't even have employees, its just the families that are running the business," said Laban.
So this weekend, whether you shop large, small, or online -- keep local in mind.
"When you shop or dine in your local restaurant, or business, you're certainly supporting your community you live in, you're give back to your neighborhood," said Hornsby. "And you can find some unique items you wouldn't find in some of your larger retailers."
Also this Saturday, the small business hub of Antique Alley is ringing in the season by turning on the overhead Christmas lights with a big event on Trenton Street.
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