PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Store owners across the Delaware Valley hoped for big crowds on Small Business Saturday, the start of the busiest shopping season of the year.
Inside Serendipity on Germantown Ave in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, a packed store is giving workers hope for a successful holiday season.
"We're really pushing for shop small, keep it in the community. All those extra dollars, they stay local," said owner Nicole Beltz.
It's one of 200 retailers, restaurants, and other shops along the popular strip benefitting from small business Saturday - with a little help from Santa, of course, who greeted families enjoying the day.
On East Passyunk Avenue, 160 independently-owned stores are hoping the season of gift-giving will be a gift for business.
"It's very hard to survive. It really is. I've been in business 30 years, so I've been doing it a long time, and it gets harder and harder each year," said Deborah Scipione, owner of Bianca Simone.
She says it's harder because of competition. The convenience of online shopping and big box stores makes it hard for small shops to stay afloat.
Advocates, however, argue small businesses are vital to a community.
"It really makes an impact to them directly. They're often reinvesting the money you spend locally into other local businesses and so it has a cumulative affect," said Adam Leiter, executive director, East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District.
It's money well-spent on gifts store owners say you won't find anywhere else.
"We have specialty items. Things you can't buy in the mall and you get one on one customer service," said Scipione.
While Small Business Saturday brought crowds, business owners are hoping shoppers will keep coming back and shop small all holiday season.