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As one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year approaches many small businesses are hoping some will choose to shop small, shop local.

In 2010 American Express launched Small Business Saturday to encourage people to shop small the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

This year the event is bigger than ever with local businesses setting up downtown and many offering extra deals.

Small Business Saturday Champion and Owner of IBS Aimee Kurgas said it is their job to rally the local businesses and organize more of an event creating more reasons for shoppers to come out, support and have a fun experience.

In order to do this IBS Print Shop has organized something new this year, inviting small in-home or craft businesses to set up booths in downtown Fredericktown to draw in more shoppers.

"We understand you plan on hitting all the big box stores on Black Friday, but we recommend checking out your local stores to see what deals they have going on Small Business Saturday," Kurgas said. "Find something local, unique or handmade and support your community, friends and neighbors."

Kurgas said there will be a pretty wide variety of products around the court square including jewelry, handmade soap, furniture, home decor and more.

"The outside vendors are local people who make and sale wares, but currently are not large enough to have an actual storefront," Kurgas said. "This will give customers a wide variety of stores to shop at while getting unique items and supporting their neighbors."

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce has also partnered with local shops to help promote by offering a list of Shop Local Deals. Some of the deals include 15 percent off all silks and gift items at Country Lane Florist, buy a sandwich get a side and drink free at Madison & Co. Cafe, one free 2 liter of soda with the purchase of a whole pizza at Chuck's Short Stop, purchase any facial gift card at Flawless Esthetics Med Spa and receive an LED treatment and brow tinting free with more deals added daily.

"The chamber is doing our annual Shop Local deals," Chamber President Tessa Rehkop said. "Where we help businesses promote specials for this day only. This is our way of encouraging the community to come shop the businesses in Fredericktown and Marquand or any other members in the surrounding communities."

Rehkop said it is a win, win situation where people can get Christmas shopping done at discounted prices while supporting local businesses.

"Shopping local puts money directly back into your community," Rehkop said. "By supporting your local businesses, you are directly supporting your neighbors, schools and city infrastructure as opposed to big corporations. It may seem so easy to sit at home and order items online but why not come out and enjoy our quaint downtown and get handmade, unique items."

Rehkop said no one likes to see empty shops downtown and the way to change that is to support the shops we do have.

"I'm really excited this year because Aimee Kurgas of IBS and Brick & Mortar is organizing Pop-up Shops downtown," Rehkop said. "This allows for even more shopping in downtown Fredericktown for local crafters and businesses that don't have a storefront to showcase their items."

A special visitor is scheduled to make a stop in Fredericktown to celebrate Small Business Saturday at Country Lane Florist. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and some of their elves are scheduled for a visit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

New owners Tracy Russom and Joan Schulz hope this will give their customers a chance to see they are more than just a flower shop but also offer unique gift items for all occasions. 

"I feel it is very important to support all our local businesses, not just for a special day but throughout the year," Schulz said.  

Kurgas said strong small businesses make for a strong community.

"While larger stores may be able to offer more on site, a community is really supported by the smaller businesses," Kurgas said. "Those are the ones who are employing, as a whole, the largest number of people, their tax revenue is staying local and supporting this community, the store owners are the ones who are most often supporting local events and charities and serving in the community.  When we shop small, shop local we support each other."

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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