LACONIA — After Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday, and none too soon, say local entrepreneurs.

Karmen Gifford, president of the Lakes Region Chamber, say the reasons to shop local are manifold.

“The money you spend locally stays local and benefits taxpayers and employers,” she said. “Rather than going online, or traveling out of the area, get a bite to eat while shopping and patronize local businesses that are here every day of the year.”

Customers’ shopping choices make a big difference to the well being of local communities.

“If a business hires an employee, a cook, a sales person, and there isn’t enough sales volume, that employee can lose a job, lose a home,” Gifford said.

Gift certificates to local spas, restaurants and even grocery stores make good Christmas gifts, she said.

She also said people should not forget local service businesses, such as home alarm installers, that may not have a brick and mortar presence.

One local business that does have a local presence is Annalee Dolls, which celebrated its 85th anniversary this year.

The company ships dolls all over the world and has a gift shop at 399 Daniel Webster Highway.

The dolls are intended for adults and are not toys. They have a wire frame that allows them to be posed. This time of year, people often pose dolls whimsically in places where children can enjoy them from afar.

Betsey Pelletier, of Annalee Dolls, said some customers like to get a better idea of the product than can be achieved online.

“It’s nice for the customers to actually hold the dolls and get a feel for the product,” she said. “In our gift shop, dolls are posed in different ways. People get display ideas and save on shipping costs.

“It’s a personal experience, being surrounded by the Christmas spirit. It’s like a walk back into childhood. Also, customers can watch as the dolls are being made.”

The business employs 18 people.

Sunflower Natural Foods, 390 S Main St., has 11 employees.

Manager Ryan McCourt said the store carries items that can be hard to find elsewhere in the area.

“We have a little bit of everything,” he said. “We have gifts. We have supplements.

“People can answer questions about supplements. We have a certified herbalist that works here on Saturday. We have a health coach.

“If people buy things online, they miss the question factor. We have a really knowledgeable staff here.”

Another thing the 35-year-old business has are local, New England products, including locally produced, raw, unprocessed honey.

The store also carries organic bulk products such as nuts, flour and spices.

“People feel comfortable when they come here,” McCourt said. “We know what we are talking about. We scrutinize our vendors. We make sure the products have the quality we and the customers will be happy with.”

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