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Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop small

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If you survive the madness of Black Friday and want to cross more items off your holiday shopping list before you dive into Cyber Monday deals, you can participate in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26.

The national shopping holiday was created by American Express in 2010 to encourage consumers to support small businesses and celebrate all they do for their communities.

Janie Tutewohl, owner of Market on Oak and co-owner of TOWN Sports, both in downtown Farmington, said a vibrant business environment is important to the local economy.

"If our local businesses do well and can survive, and better yet, thrive, it will drive other business," Tutewohl said. "The more there is to draw people downtown, the more people will shop all the stores, not just one."

According to Emily Corson, communications and events director at the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, nearly 90 percent of businesses are considered small businesses. Corson said small businesses are able to offer quick and personable service while building relationships with each of their customers.

"Shopping at your locally-owned, small businesses helps build your community through the positive economic investment and job creation," she said. "We encourage all residents to frequent our small businesses in Dakota County throughout the year, not just during the holidays."

Many shops in Rosemount and Farmington will take part in Small Business Saturday this year.

BlueNose Coffee in Farmington will celebrate with live music and treats from 10-11:30 a.m.

Divas and Denim Boutique in Rosemount will offer discounted prices on merchandise as well as snacks and refreshments.

Farmington's Market on Oak will hold hourly drawings, provide snacks and refreshments, and offer a free gift and Small Business Saturday shopping bag to customers who make a purchase.

Dakota County Technical College will host the Carousel Craft Show, a Christmas craft and gift show with more than 120 vendors from around the Twin Cities selling their wares from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $2.

Linda Satriano, owner of Divas and Denim Boutique, said it is important to support local small businesses because mom and pop shops are the heart and soul of small communities.

"We're all competing against the online businesses," she said. "If everyone continues to shop online, pretty soon it will all just be service stores. No more unique boutiques."

She said small businesses can't always compete with chain store prices, but they can offer better service than big box stores.

"I have customers that say, 'Call me when something comes in.' Macy's isn't going to call you when a dress comes in that they think you might like," she said.

Satriano said residents should take advantage of the convenience of shopping in their own downtown, where they can run errands without having to deal with traffic jams or parking wars.

"There is something to be said for small town living," she said.

Statistics show that Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on small businesses around the country. The amount of money consumers spent at small businesses nearly tripled from 2012 to 2015. According to a study commissioned by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business, approximately 95 million consumers participated in the event last year, spending an estimated $16.2 billion.

"It's one of my best days of the year, absolutely," Satriano said.

"It's our biggest day of the year," Tutewohl said. "We absolutely rely on it."