'Tis the season for some to shop small and local as an alternative to big box, major retail stores

CINCINNATI - It's the time of year when national retailers compete for our holiday shopping dollars in a big way: Deals, special offers and discounts abound. 

For the seventh year in a row, it's also time for neighborhood businesses to do their best to get shoppers to consider buying from local establishments.

The Greater Cincinnati Independent Business Alliance (CINBA) BuyCincy holiday event runs Nov. 21 to Nov. 24. (Veterans of the local shop-a-thon may know the happening by its former name, Cincinnati Unchained).

More than 130 shops and eateries in 18 neighborhoods are taking part. Visit one of the BuyCincy participating businesses, pick up a raffle ticket, and you could win a prize.

If you're not ready to hit the shopping trail on Nov. 21--but you still want to support small, local businesses--there's Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30. Sponsored by American Express. The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become a national appointment for people looking for places other than the mall and big box stores to spend their money.

The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend $602.1 billion on holiday shopping this year. That's a 3.9 percent increase over 2012.

According to a Redshift Research study Americans spent an estimated $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday in 2012.

Where do you shop?

We asked Twitter followers and Facebook fans to share their favorite local stores, and here are a few:

How do you spend your holiday shopping dollars? Tell us what percent goes to national chain stores and what percent lands in local businesses.

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