Thousands support local businesses in Knoxville during Small Business Saturday

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Thousands of people in East Tennessee participated in Small Business Saturday, a day encouraging shoppers to buy local.

American Express started the retail holiday back in 2010 and it has been observed on the Saturday after Thanksgiving ever since. According to American Express, 95 million customers shopped local on Small Business Saturday in 2015.

Carla Smelcer says she recommends supporting small businesses.

“My father’s a small business owner, so I would recommend supporting them and helping our community grow,” she said.

Hundreds of people visited downtown Knoxville to get a head start on their holiday shopping and support the number of local businesses in the community.

“It’s small town America that makes us great,” Susan Dent said. “The big box stores have pretty much taken over and it’s important to support the small business owners, because they’re trying to make it like everybody else.”

Shoppers said they like supporting small businesses, because doing so helps boosts the local economy.

“I believe in giving back to the community you live in and if you spend your money here, it stays here,” Donna Tompkins said.

They also said there’s a special charm that separates local vendors from mainstream retailers.

“Whenever you walk into a small store, there are a lot of people there and they are excited to be at work because they have great bosses and the big box stores, in one sense of the word, they’re just there for a paycheck,” Dent said.

“This is really what makes our community special in Knoxville, so I would encourage everyone to get out here and support them,” Tompkins said.

Shoppers agree the small businesses make the shopping experience in East Tennessee both unique and personal.

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