Consumers Shop Local on Small Business Saturday - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Consumers Shop Local on Small Business Saturday

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(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

BERLIN, Md. -- Shoppers visited main street stores in Berlin's downtown area to support the Small Business Saturday initiative and find special deals on holiday gifts.

Voted "America's Coolest Small Town," downtown Berlin was crowded with holiday shoppers taking advantage of one of the newest shopping events that falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday during Thanksgiving weekend.

Started by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday may be a relatively new economic initiative but for many local business owners in the area they've been offering holiday deals for years.

"People want to shop local," said Debbie Frene, owner of gift boutique Victorian Charm on Berlin's main street. "We will give discounts and free gifts with purchase depending on what line you purchase from, and we've done that for 20 years," said Frene.

The streets were not as crowded as Friday night where as many as 3,000 people came out to see the tree lighting ceremony, said the Mayor of Berlin Gee Williams.

Williams said Berlin has seen a major economic boost since the shopping event started.

"Guests are absolutely essential to our local economy and to our local culture," said the mayor. "The town of Berlin has benefited from the notion of 'buy local," said Williams.

"Just over 20 years ago we didn't have a tourism business. We had a few people that got lost and ended up in Berlin, but 20 years later it is now one of the top two drivers of our economy -- that and healthcare," the mayor said.

Melissa Thiess, a regular holiday shopper, said the deals at larger stores are hard to resist but the items at small local stores have a more personalized touch.

"I feel like I'm in a hallmark movie," said Thiess. "And it's just a very close, Christmas-y vibe. I love going into the old stores and finding things that are unique," she said.

The National Retail Federation said this year, many of the shoppers who visited local stores on Small Business Saturday are expected to participate in Cyber Monday.

The NRF projects consumers will spend more than $600 billion during the 2014 holiday shopping season.

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