CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Americans are expected to spend a $712 on Christmas gifts in 2011, but by spending just a fraction of those dollars at a local, small business can have major payoffs for the economy. Nobody knows this better than co-owner of The Boulevard at South End, Jennifer Branham.

In her shop, gifts, trinkets, and items you never knew you needed (such as a mandle male scented candles nested in real beer and liquor bottles) line the shelves and displays.

If someone comes in, my greatest pleasure is telling them about the products. For instance, if someone picks up a handbag, I can tell them those are made by Dana, who is a nurse in Lake Norman. Smiles Branham.

Much of the store s inventory is locally made, either in the South, or at least the Carolinas and Charlotte area. As a small business, she s hoping the upcoming Small Business Saturday promotion will help raise awareness for the importance of buying small and buying local.

Southend is doing a district-wide promotion with AmEx, where they re coming to Charlotte, there will be Christmas Trees, gift wrapping stations, and lots of consumers putting their dollars back into the community. Says Branham.

Just a hop, skip and jump down the street, is The Common Market, an eclectic deli and giftshop, where Yelp! review site community manager Nicole Warshauer is having a snack. As a person who visits local businesses, along with the bigger box-stores, she knows the impact your dollars can have on the community, which is more than a one-day promotion.

If you keep your money here (out of $100) $68 of it will stay local, versus only 43 at a big box retailer, Says Washauer.

Branham believes there s a misconception that buying local means spending more money.

People in this economy want something special, but keep their budget in mind. Much here is geared toward 50 and under, even 20 and under.

She hopes the satisfaction of supporting a local business and the local economy, will be priceless.

Learn more about shopping local here: Yelp s Shop Local Pledge

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