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National Holiday Benefits Local Shops

11-30 jbo small bizASHLAND, Ore. – The spectacle isn’t as big and sales aren’t quite as dramatic, but local shops say their day is just as important.

“I think it just lets our customers know that we appreciate them,” said Stacey Larnerd, owner of Ashland’s Village Shoes.

Small Business Saturday started three years ago as an American Express promotion. Since then, more and more local shops have turned it into something of their own.

Now downtown stores are littered with signs for those who haven’t yet gotten their fill of shopping.

“People in this area are very well aware that they want diversity in the marketplace,” said Larnerd. “And I think supporting local small business keeps diversity in the marketplace.”

And few industries have benefited more from that localism movement than indie bookstores. Once a dying breed next to department stores and online sales, local stores like Bloomsbury Books in Ashland are enjoying a resurgence.

And this year they’re taking Small Business Saturday to a whole new level.

“An author, Sherman Alexie, decided to try to help independent bookstores in particular on Small Business Saturday. So he suggested that authors go and help work at independent bookstores,” said Rhonda Abrams, a visiting author at Bloomsbury Books.

The effort attracted more than a thousand authors around the country, not to sign or promote books but to interact with customers.

“There are so many great books that would never be discovered if it wasn’t for a bookseller who had a passion for a book,” said Abrams.

And that’s exactly why some customers around the region say they waited that one extra day – not for the sales or the spectacle, but for the service.

“It’s more personal,” said shopper Sheila Tripp. “And I intend to go to other local shops in town on the way home.”