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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Chris King is a regular customer at Russo's Books in the Marketplace and she specifically came to the bookstore to shop on Small Business Saturday.

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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Mike Russo of Russo's Books, holds a Kobo eBook while talking about his participation Small Business Saturday.

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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Julianna Strode,14, left, shops for a birthday dress with her mother Jenny Strode at Apricot Lane Boutique in the Marketplace on Small Business Saturday. Small businesses across the nation are trying to draw customers of their own after Black Friday.

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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Haley Gonzales, left, and Savanah Brinsfield of Apricot Lane Boutique in the Marketplace, one of the many business participating in Small Business Saturday.

For some Bakersfield residents, the kickoff to the holiday shopping season isn't about Friday's door-buster deals at national chains or Monday's slashed prices across the Internet.

It's about supporting local businesses.

"I just prefer to spend money on small businesses," said Jenny Strode, who was shopping in the Marketplace with her daughter Saturday. "There are more small businesses in Bakersfield than larger ones, so it's more important to beef up those small businesses than national or corporate businesses."

Strode was one of many Bakersfield residents looking for deals or just shopping to support local businesses as part of Small Business Saturday, a 3-year-old tradition that positions itself as an alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is sandwiched between two more prominent shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is a day where people are supposed to shop at independently and locally owned stores.

Last year, more than 100 million people across the nation participated, according to American Express' website. American Express gives its cardholders incentive to participate by offering a $25 credit to those who preregister their card and shop at stores who register with American Express.

Strode said she prefers Small Business Saturday to Black Friday. In fact, she's been boycotting Black Friday altogether because she said stores having been opening too early in recent years. Some stores opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day this year.

But Strode and her 14-year-old daughter, Julianna, having been shopping at local stores on Small Business Saturday every year. The two were at Apricot Lane on Saturday shopping for both Julianna's birthday present and a dress to wear for a Christmas celebration at school.

Apricot Lane is a chain clothing boutique, but each location is individually owned by locals. The store in the Martketplace was offering 15 percent off on everything as part of Small Business Saturday.

"I love small shops," Julianna said. "They're so cute and unique."

Next to Apricot Lane, Russo's Books was also participating in Small Business Saturday. Mike Russo, the bookstore's owner, said the store first started participating last year. The store didn't promote the day last year, and Russo said he was amazed at how many people still knew about it and came to the store.

This year, the store did promote its participation in Small Business Saturday. By noon, when the store had been open for three hours, the store already had half a normal day's worth of customers, Russo said. And there was still nine hours left to go. Customers paying with their American Express cards was also considerably more than usual, he said.

The store's biggest deal was $30 off of an e-reader. But to Russo, their draw on Saturday was "just our regular good service," he said.

Joshua Jeter was at Doug's Hobbies downtown Saturday with his stepson and his brother-in-law. The three were shopping for a model car. They came specifically because it was Small Business Saturday, Jeter said.

This is the first year the family has heard about Small Business Saturday. To Jeter, Black Friday is "garbage," he said.

"I want to support Bakersfield and small businesses," he said, "because they're the basis for the economy, how many are open and thrive."