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Small Business Saturday helps local stores in Columbia

Friday, millions of Americans went Black Friday shopping. Many of them went to big retailers like Best Buy, Target or Walmart to get those Black Friday deals.

Fortune Magazine says Black Friday is expected to generate about 50 billion dollars in sales this year.

But today is all about shopping locally at small businesses.

Many stores in downtown Columbia participated Saturday with “Shop Small” signs and Small Business Saturday specials.

Calhoun’s, a home decor store on East Broadway, even opened early for customers. Store manager and partner Lisa Klenke says Small Business Saturday is one of the store’s busiest days of the year.

Lisa Klenke, Calhoun’s store partner and manager: “So far today it’s meant a lot. We’ve been really busy right off the bat. I got here early so I went ahead and opened up and the store immediately filled with people.”

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to shop locally the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The U.S. Small Business Administration says last year, nearly half of all consumers spend about $5.7 billion at small business around the country.

And since the recession, the SBA says small businesses have created two-thirds of all new private sector jobs.

Ruth Walker, store partner of Bluestem Missouri Crafts on Ninth Street, says Small Business Saturday has been very successful in her store for the last four years.

Ruth Walker, Bluestem store partner: “We’re participating in Small Business Saturday because we’re a small business. We pay our employees here, our artists are local and regional, so we feel like any money coming in to us is money that stays in the community, or the region at least.”

Earlier this week in a letter from the White House, President Obama encouraged Americans to shop at small businesses this Saturday and said, “Small businesses are the cornerstones of our communities.”

Columbia resident Aly Friend says this is the second year she has participated in Small Business Saturday.

Aly Friend, Columbia resident: “I came to Columbia about seven years ago and I’ve loved it ever since. And I think it’s really important to support downtown and the local businesses and they always have a lot of really great finds.”

And new this year, the Small Business Administration created a “Dine Small” movement to help expand Small Business Saturday into the evening. The SBA encourages consumers to support entrepreneurs at local restaurants and others in the food and beverage industry.

You can find the American Express interactive map for small businesses in your area here.

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