12 Days of Black Friday: Advantages to buying local

12 Days of Black Friday: Advantages to buying local »Play Video

For Kami Gray, it's all about the details. 

"This dress has rouching on the side," she says as she holds up a sleeveless red dress from Mabel and Zora Boutique in Northwest Portland. "I might pair it with a great looking scarf." 

She's a personal stylist whose job is to make you look unique.  She spends time purging her customers' closets for the kinds of things they bring home on Black Friday, like the same cardigan in three, four or maybe five different colors. That's why she favors spending Black Friday at local stores like Mabel and Zora.

It's part of a growing trend to support “little box stores”. Consider this: In a study by Civic Economics that was published in August of 2012, researchers found that local retailers return a total of 52% of their revenue to the local economy, compared to just 14% for the national chain retailers.

Local restaurants returned an average of 79%, compared to 30% for the chain eateries.  Why this huge discrepancy?  According to that same study, independent businesses spend more on local labor, goods, and services from vendors.

The Small Business Administration puts it in another way.  According to its study, 20 cents of every dollar spent at a chain store is retained or re-circulated into the community, while 60 cents of every dollar spent with an independent retailer is retained or re-circulated in the community.

Besides the economic benefits, shopping at a local store has its advantages. 

"It'll probably be a little quieter here," says Mabel and Zora owner Tiffany Bean, "It's a lot smaller.  We're little boxes." 

Bean joins more than 150 little box stores around Portland to offer discounts on Black Friday, provide treats and drinks, and conduct prize giveaways. 

All that, plus they will have personalized service and unique products - everything from clothes and duct tape PBR flasks to handmade guitar pillows and Black Friday tattoos. 

Bean reminds us that, "we have local employees, we shop local, we eat local, we spend our money back in Portland, so spending your money in Portland keeps the money circulating in Portland.  It's good for the economy."

Good for the economy and good for family relations. Personal stylist Kami Gray adds that being able to give a personalized or unique gift to your loved one this holiday is immeasurable.

More: Local Black Friday links