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November 28. 2013 7:26PM

Small Business Saturday catches on nationwide on as enticement to shop local during holidays

Amid the chirping, twittering and fluttering, The Bird Shop in Sacramento, Calif., has all the sounds of a bustling holiday season. From her perch amid dozens of chattering parrots, parakeets, cockatiels and canaries, third-generation owner Tiffany Latino is counting on strong sales in the weeks ahead.

And there’s one day she’s particularly zeroed in on: this weekend’s Small Business Saturday, a nationwide event to encourage holiday shoppers to spend some dollars at local, independent businesses.

With fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, small businesses say they need the holidays — and the attention focused on Nov. 30 — to go out big.

At The Bird Shop, it could signal that things are perking up for good. Having survived a discouraging droop in sales during the recession, “this year has been better than last year, so it’s our third year of creeping back up,” said Latino, whose shop has been family-owned for nearly 35 years.

“I’ll be happy to finish out the year in a big way,” she said, a red-headed parrot nibbling on a lock of her hair.

The country’s 23 million small businesses account for about 54 percent of all U.S. retail sales, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. But with unemployment still stubborn and consumer confidence wobbly, many are nervous.

“With good reason. Your average bookstore owner, restaurateur or auto-shop owner has a lot of concerns and frustrations with the economy,” said John Kabateck, California director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “That’s why ‘shopping small’ is a big deal in an uncertain economy.”

Now in its fourth year, Small Business Saturday appears cemented in place as a reminder to consumers to “shop local” not only during the holidays, but year-round. It’s been recognized by Congress, endorsed by the SBA, and supported by American Express and the NFIB.

State, federal and city officials in Nashua on Monday toured the city’s downtown to promote Small Business Saturday in New Hampshire.