Shoppers support their favorite local stores on Small Business Saturday

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Small Business Saturday began in 2010 as a way to draw holiday shoppers into locally owned businesses.

The event, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, has grown into a movement of sorts.

Over the last few years, sales have more than tripled for small businesses on this day. Local business communities throughout the metro are rolling out the red carpet for customers in an effort to woo them away from big box stores.

Long before the bell swings against the front door at the Whistle Stop Coffee and Mercantile in Lee's Summit, the owner is thinking about her customers.

"We've been here so long I've seen children grow and go through high school. I know your name and what your drink is. This is community. People don't just get coffee and leave. People want to stay and see friends. Its a whole different feel," says Candace Jennings.

Another reason folks choose to shop small: unmatched service.

Customers are often greeted by the store owner, who is fully invested in their satisfaction. Gifts can be personalized, one-of-a-kind, and have a local flair. Some places even gift wrap for free.

Misti Maddron of Very Violet Boutique says, "When you buy from us, you are helping your neighbor. You might be helping a little girl take dance or her mom put food on the table."

Even the local bed-and-breakfast offers homemade or locally sourced food, coffee, lotions and soaps. Liesl Hayes, owner of Browning Bed and Breakfast says, "All of our items are made from scratch. Right now we are serving cinnamon pumpkin donuts on the table for our guests."

Today, local, family-owned stores hope to draw new customers, so they are hanging flags, blowing up balloons, offering special promotions and shopping bags. A down-home reminder that shopping small is a big deal.

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