In her second year of business, Kristal Roberts says small businesses are vital to the local economy.



“If you are shopping at a big box store, only a small percentage of that money stays in the community,” said Roberts, owner of End Zone Apparel. “Local businesses are not just about paying their employees, they are about being involved in the local community and supporting local charities.”



As part of a national campaign, the Small Business Administration and American Express are urging consumers to shop at their local businesses Nov. 24 by promoting Small Business Saturday.



Held on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday has been celebrated since 2010.



According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies with fewer than 500 employees have created 64 percent of the net new jobs from September 1992 through 2010.



For Roberts, shopping local and supporting local businesses comes natural.



“Most of our going out to eat dollars go to locally owned restaurants like Johnny O’Quigley’s and La Famiglia,” she said. “You want to support the other small businesses in your community; you become friends with them and you want to help them by spending money in their stores and helping put clothes on their kids backs.



”To help promote shopping locally, the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce passed out doormats to local businesses promoting the event, courtesy of American Express.



President and CEO Shane Moody said they distributed about 25 to 30 mats to businesses around town, including End Zone Apparel, Karaboo Bakery, Flamingo’s Tropical Wines, and Sporty Lady.



“I always encourage people to shop locally and not on the Internet because this is such a small community that we need to support each other and our local economy,” he said. “We need to keep the jobs and the money in the local community.”



Moody added that when somebody spends $1 locally, that money actually represents $5 to the local economy.



As the owner of a small sports apparel store, Roberts said the idea of promoting the benefits of small businesses and encouraging consumers to shop at locally owned stores are growing through Small Business Saturday efforts.



“I think the awareness is definitely rising,” she said. “I really think five years ago you didn’t have as much awareness.”