New Orleans, La. - Monique Sobrino will never have hundreds of Black Friday shoppers lined up outside her Lakeview store. But, she says, there's something Little Miss Muffin offers that the big boxes can't match: customer service.
"People buy here because they know we're going to gift wrap, we're going to walk the present out to the car, we're going to hand select. That's important for the person they're choosing it for," Sobrino says.
That customer service will be on display this weekend as hundreds of local stores take part in Small Business Saturday.
Credit card company American Express launched the movement in 2010, encouraging shoppers to spend some of their holiday money at local retailers. The company says more than 100 million people shopped on Small Business Saturday last year, and local stores hope to bring in even more customers this holiday season.
Shopping at locally-owned businesses keeps more money in the community. Internet retailers like Amazon don't pay property taxes, for instance, and online shoppers in general often don't have to pay sales taxes for their purchases.
Stephen Dwyer plans to do most of his holiday shopping at small businesses. "It's very important to me to be part of the revival of New Orleans and I think we all are, even now, seven years after what we went through," says Dwyer. "So I embrace shopping local. I think it's great to spend our dollars where they're most needed and where they're put to work the most."
Sobrino says the money spent here supports the local artists who sell their designs through the store. She says there's an experience you just won't find on the Internet.
"There is an interaction, whether it's with a local artist, one of the young girls who lives in the neighborhood who are helping you gift wrap or if it's someone you've known for ten years who you come back to a local store and that is your sales person and that person continues to help you every year," says Sobrino.
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