LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) -

Across the nation this weekend, customers went big for small businesses to celebrate Small Business Saturday.          

Since Small Business Saturday began in 2010, the promotion has brough big sales to small employers. Last year, Wisconsin’s Better Business Bureau reported $5.5 billion were spent at locally owned retailers.

Local La Crosse employers, like Margie Wanek of Stamp ‘n Hand, have been living and working in the community for years. So while shoppers thanked them for their loyalty on Small Business Saturday, those employers are reminding people they're here every other day of the week, too.

Wanek opened her paper crafts store in 1992 and has since showed a strong dedication to downtown.

Along with stamps and specialty paper, she offers her customers something not easily found in a big box store – loyalty. According to Wanek, she spends time getting to know her repeat shoppers and even orders items they request. She says that’s not something a large retailer would be able to do. Belinda Mueller of La Crosse’s Downtown Mainstreet Inc. agrees.

“You go into the shops and you talk with the business owners, and they know what you're looking for,” Mueller said. “You get that one-on-one experience."

Local employers say Small Business Saturday is a great promotion to get people into downtown shops just in time for the holidays. But it's not just about shopping local today - it's about attracting shoppers for tomorrow.

"Just by promoting it and showing people all of the local stores that we have and the uniqueness we have and the variety we have, 2616 we'll get people to come downtown today and then continue to come down."

Wanek appreciates the crowd that Small Business Saturday brings her store this weekend- but she's also reminding shoppers that she's here in downtown La Crosse to stay.

 “We're special all the time, we don't want to focus it all on one day,” she said.