by Elizabeth Baier

MINNEAPOLIS — DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar stopped at a Minneapolis toy store Saturday to encourage holiday shoppers to spend money at small and local businesses.

Klobuchar and Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges stopped at Creative Kidstuff in Minneapolis to tout Small Business Saturday, the annual promotion that brings in more than $5 billion to small retailers across the country.

Klobuchar said more than half of businesses in Minnesota, or roughly 120,000, are small businesses.

"It is important to realize that we've got a lot of local businesses and they tend to one, employ people in our state. And two, the money goes right back into the community because the owners live here," Klobuchar said.

Creative Kidstuff owner Roberta Bonoff said while she can't mark down prices as much as big box retailers, she is able to offer more personalized shopping experiences to customers.

"I can't compete on price. It's just not possible. I don't have their buying power. So then you have to figure out what you mean to the consumer, what you mean to your neighborhood, what you mean to the people in your community," Bonoff said.

This year, there are 26 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year's 32 days.

That means retailers big and small are expected to increase their marketing efforts to compete for consumer dollars, according to Bruce Nustad, president of the Minnesota Retailers Association.

"Some of the publicity around shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas is actually great for all businesses," Nustad said. "It reminds consumers that now's the time to shop, and to shop local," Nustad said. "I think there's an upside for small businesses."