CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There were no lines around the block, but hundreds of shoppers still passed through the doors of Charlotte s SouthEnd shops one day after Black Friday.

They were there to support locally-owned small businesses and find unique gifts along the way, as part of Small Business Saturday.

We've had such a great turnout, it was awesome, said Amy MacCabe, owner of Savory Spice Shop in Atherton Mill Shops. Couldn't have asked for a better day.

Saturday was MacCabe s grand opening. The former big bank employee decided to take a leap of faith to follow a dream in a slow economy. She got a big boost out of the national campaign for small businesses.

The marketing we got out of today -- it would have cost us thousands and thousands of dollars, said MacCabe. So the free ads, the press, the customers -- meeting new people coming in showing them our product -- it's crazy!

The second annual shopping event for small shops was created to share the wealth of the holiday season with businesses who don t have the marketing budgets of the major chains and big box stores.

American Express, the main sponsor, co-founded the day and offered a $25 credit to some customers who spent more than $25 at participating shops.

Charlotte was one of 15 cities picked by American Express for celebrations and giveaways. Stores all over the area participated, but SouthEnd s celebration had the backing of Center City Partners.

Suzi Stephens came by to find gifts and support locally-owned shops.

We need to support these guys instead of going to the big boxes for everything that you need, she said.

Small businesses have created two out of every three jobs over the past 15 years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. And small businesses reinvest in communities at two to three times higher rate than national chains, according to the Independent Book Sellers Association.

That s what MacCabe hopes to do with her spice shop, which sells just about every flavor you could ever think of for cooking.

And neighbor Bryan Geers couldn t wait for her doors to open to liven up his dishes.

Money that we can put I their pocket really just helps the community, he said, as he headed for the door with his bag of spices.

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