Thursday, July 31, 2014 · 5:38 p.m.
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Last year, despite competition from e-books, David Smotherman, owner of Winder Binder Gallery and Bookstore, said holiday sales were strong for his Chattanooga business. Nov. 24 is Small Business Saturday, a chance for area residents to support local stores. (Photo: Staff)

Nestled between two major shopping days—Black Friday and Cyber Monday—Small Business Saturday aims to boost the economy by encouraging citizens to shop locally. 

"It showcases the services [small businesses] offer and helps generate capital infusion for the local community and spur economic growth within our community," Sharyn Moreland, director of Chattanooga State's Tennessee Small Business Development Center, said via email. 

Leaders with American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help independently owned businesses. 

Last year, more than 100 million people shopped locally on Small Business Saturday, according to the event's website. 

Leaders with Independent Community Bankers of America are encouraging citizens to buy at least 30 percent of their holiday purchases from local, small businesses.

About 45 percent of each dollar spent at locally owned, independent businesses goes back into the community, Moreland said. 

Some chains and franchises contribute as little as 20 percent of sales back into the community, she said. 

Leaders with nonprofit association SCORE, which helps grow small businesses through mentorship and education, said that small businesses have an important impact on the economy. 

More than 90 percent of small business owners gave back to their community last year through volunteering, in-kind contributions and/or direct cash donations, SCORE leaders said, citing the National Federation of Independent Business Owners. 

“Our network of 12,000-plus volunteer mentors work hard every day to strengthen America’s small businesses,” SCORE CEO Ken Yancey said in a prepared statement. “Each year, we gladly work in tandem with the Small Business Saturday effort, which seeks the same result.” 

SCORE leaders are promoting Small Business Saturday through local chapters. 

Small businesses in Tennessee make up about 85 percent of all the state's businesses, Moreland said. 

"These businesses add to [a community's] character, contributing more than just goods and services," she said via email. "They offer personalized attention, add diversity to our shopping options and bring life to historic buildings. And they pay their employees—and local taxes—with the income they receive. Each time you choose to spend your dollars at a local, independent business, you are voting for the continued strength and vitality of our community."

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