Local shops preparing for Small Business Saturday on November 28

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The shopping countdown to Christmas is on and Huntsville city leaders are asking consumers to think small when it comes time to buy. They announced Thursday that the community will, once again, participate in "Small Business Saturday."

The annual initiative encourages shoppers to support local businesses during the holiday season.

"It's very important for us to support the small businesses here in town because they are what provide the local flavor for our community," said Tharon Honeycutt of the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce. "It's the ability to have those things that are unique to our community and that's what small businesses do."

The national effort, now entering its sixth year, takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Last year, more than 88 million consumers spent $14.3 billion throughout the country.

In Madison County, 94 percent of the nearly 8,000 businesses have fewer than 50 employees.

"That's your neighbors, that's your family members, that's the people who work from our local community and come and work in these retail shops and that's a whole economy in itself," said Mayor Tommy Battle. "They're small business, but they do big things."

Domaine South is one of those small businesses in Huntsville. It opened its doors this summer along Cleveland Avenue and owner Kristian Denis knows that this first holiday season for her shop could be huge.

"I think it has the impetus to push the store to the next level," she said.

The fine wine, artisan gifts and homes goods store features local writers, artists and producers, who are considered the stars of the "Small Business Saturday" initiative. But, for Denis, the shop local movement is about more than just the local economy, it is about the local identity. Small businesses make the city uniquely Huntsville.

"That's what gives a community flavor, otherwise you end up with this sort of homogenous big box store city that could be anywhere in the United States," she said.

As Denis watches her customers reconnect with the handmade, she also sees them reconnect with the heartfelt. The focus becomes more than just the motions of giving, but the thought behind it.

"I love it when people can make that connection to something that speaks to them," she said. "It's a good feeling to be able to help people find things that bring them joy."

Small Business Saturday is November 28, 2015. To learn more about the initiative, click here.