With Christmas fast approaching, shoppers are turning to local shops, which are gearing up for gift-buyers.

This is one reason Tami Durkee and other small shop owners in Cocoa Village participate in Small Business Saturday, an event created several years ago to follow Black Friday.

“This is our busiest time of the year,” said Durkee, who owns The Pear Tree in Cocoa.

The American Express-run event is now its eighth year, sponsoring hundreds of thousands of businesses across the country.

"People will come in and say, 'I’m here to shop Small Business Saturday,' " Durkee said. "I started hearing that about three years ago, so that’s very encouraging."

American Express says that in 2016, it saw about 112 million consumers nationwide spend about $15.4 billion at local businesses.

The Pear Tree owner Durkee said she doesn't see it slowing down anytime soon.

“It’s something unique and different, and that’s what people are really look for," she said. "They don’t want the same thing they can get at Walmart that everyone else can get. They want something different, and that’s why they come here."

Another shop owner said business continues to grow in the days after Thanksgiving.

“Small Business Saturday has led to an increase in our store (business) year after year. It really stimulates the local economy," James said Bailey, the owner of Sand and Sea Gifts and Gallery.

“We have competition with the big box stores, online shopping, so the locals here are our bread and butter,” Durkee said.