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story.lead_photo.caption Jennifer Martin assists a customer at Unique Creations on High Street during Small Business Saturday. Photo by Ken Barnes / News Tribune.

Saturday was an opportunity for Jefferson City's locally owned retail stores and restaurants to combine efforts and promote shopping local for the holidays.

About 20 Jefferson City businesses participated in Small Business Saturday. This is a partnership between the Downtown Jefferson City, Westside, Eastside, Old Munichberg and Southside business associations as well as the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. The businesses participating are locally owned and have 25 or fewer employees.

Some local business owners started Jefferson City's first Small Business Saturday in 2012 after seeing the success of American Express' national campaign. Over the years, nearly 50 different businesses in Jefferson City have participated in this special day of shopping for the holidays.

Brittany Schlup, owner of Premium Pets on East McCarty Street, said she's participated in the event ever since her store opened two years ago.

"It feels good to be a part of a group that's supporting each other," Schlup said. "We have felt the support from around the community, and we hear from those that come in the store that they are glad to have a local store where they can find what they need for their pets."

Schlup said she hears more of her customers saying they want to support local businesses with their dollars.

"That's what is going to help us to continue to grow and keep us open," she said. "We're always trying to find ways to be competitive and offer more services and trying to meet people where their needs are."

For 34 years, CC McClure, manager of Downtown Book & Toy on East High Street, said the store has been participating in events like Small Business Saturday. Despite a national trend that's seen large book store chains as well as many small books stores close in recent years, McClure said they have been fortunate because local residents continue to support what they do.

"We have a very loyal Jefferson City clientele, and we have people continue to follow us even after they have left our community," she said. "Even our second store out at Capital Mall has felt the local support."

McClure said featuring local authors has been key to keeping that local support.

"We have large sections that feature Missouri authors and topics about Missouri, which people really enjoy," McClure said. "You can buy books in many places, but the local connection is what keeps us going."

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