LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) -

Most small businesses can't keep up with the big box stores in their race to bring in customers, but local business owners say they can offer something that goes beyond a doorbuster deal.

You won't see most local businesses open on Thanksgiving, and you won't see a mad rush of people sprinting through their aisles at midnight.  But they'll tell you, the role they play in our local economy is bigger than any Black Friday deal.

Holiday shopping season is gearing up at Touch of Class in downtown La Crosse.  Owner Kim Pretasky is getting ready for it and like many small businesses, she hopes shoppers will chose local this year.  "I think it's critical if you want to have a healthy, thriving downtown district, you need to support all of the businesses," says Pretasky.

Monet Floral has been dealing with their holiday push for a month now and owner Patrick Foley not only encourages people to shop local, does it himself.  "I, as a downtown business owner, I truly try to shop downtown as much as I can," says Foley.  "If we want to maintain the character of our community, we have to support local businesses," says Downtown Mainstreet Inc Director Robin Moses.

There are lots of options this holiday, with serious door-buster deals, but small businesses say choosing local comes with benefits.  "When you shop at a local business a lot more of your dollar stays in the local economy, which is really important," says Moses, "it grows payroll, tax base, and all of the things that we really want to do as a community."  "It allows me to keep my doors open so then I can shop with my neighbors, my employees can shop with their neighbors," says Pretasky.

But it's more than just the money, smaller stores highlight service as a reason to shop local.  "Often when you shop at a downtown business or a local business," says Moses, "you're dealing with the owner or someone who has been there for a long time."  "It helps me as a buyer when I go to market I know who my customer is," says Pretasky, "I know who I'm buying for and it's very satisfying when what I've chosen that I think that they like is successful in the end and they're happy with the choices."  It's just a couple benefits local businesses hope shoppers consider as they prepare to dump billions into the economy.

If you are a fan of shopping online, you can still shop local.  Places like Touch of Class have websites for online shoppers.  It's more convenient for some people and it helps bring in business, some people see items online and end up coming in the store.  Downtown Mainstreet Incorporated says for every $100 spent at a local business, $45 stays in the local economy.