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Small Business Saturday urges shoppers to keep their money local

Small Business Saturday is this weekend, and shoppers across the country are visiting local mom and pop stores in support of their communities. The event was launched in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to shop at independently-owned businesses, and also to bridge the gap between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Ben Turner owns Murdock's Bicycles and Sports in downtown Oswego. He says small businesses not only offer people local shopping options, they give communities like Oswego their personality.

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Stores across the country are participating in "Small Business Saturday," which generated $5.7 billion in sales last year.

"You know, you go into one town or the next and you're always going to see certain box stores, certain drug stores, certain whatever," Turner said. "But it's the Wayne Drug in Oswego that gives it its identity, it's the River's End bookstore and, you know, some of the other businesses in town that I think give Oswego a unique feel."

He says patronizing these kinds of stores also helps keep residents connected to their neighbors, along with their towns and cities.

"It just gives people some identity," Turner explained. "The more people connect with the other businesses and the other people in town, the stronger the community is. And I think that can help alleviate a lot of the problems that sometimes plague us, but definitely plague cities that have lost their identities."

Lisa Emmons owns Mother Earth Baby, an Oswego store specializing in natural baby products. She says local businesses contribute valuable sales tax dollars to towns.

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO
The Emmons family owns Mother Earth Baby and say they have several sales going on for Small Business Saturday.

"I would encourage everybody to go into one local business you haven't been in before and check it out, see what they have to offer," Emmons said. "It might not have anything for you, but you might be able to refer somebody else and it's just a great opportunity."

But the annual event goes beyond simply promoting a sale. Emmons says it's a way to draw attention to all of the downtown stores and shops in the region.

"Our small businesses are all very involved in the community," Emmons explained. "We participate a lot in events, we contribute a lot to our community. We serve on a lot of committees and we're highly involved in our community and we want to see our community grow and be successful."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proclaimed this Saturday Small Business Saturday and released a statement encouraging shoppers to get out and visit their local boutiques. The U.S. Small Business Association says there are more than 57,000 small business retail shops in the state that employ 350,000 workers.