Joyce Mote, left, of Madison, and LaVerne Buchanan, of Springfield, Va., check out the sale items at The Little Golden Fox. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Joyce Mote, left, of Madison, and LaVerne Buchanan, of Springfield, Va., check out the sale items at The Little Golden Fox. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Shoppers looking for deals headed out earlier than ever this year to grab up doorbuster specials on items from electronics to appliances as the holiday shopping season began on Black Friday.

Retail stores boasted steep discounts and deals beginning as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving helping to usher in the annual holiday shopping season. Other stores hoping to draw in shoppers opened their doors at midnight, hours earlier than in 2011.

Even though larger retail stores offered deals on Black Friday - the day when businesses are usually thought to have made a profit for the year - local businesses see an increase in customers as well.

Debra Fine, owner of Cocoa Safari Chocolates, said Black Friday sales encouraged people to get out and shop for the holidays at national chains, but the kick-off of the holiday shopping season helped local businesses as well.

"We see a lot of people that are in town to visit families," she said.

Yet, after all of the hype leading up to Black Friday sales, several small businesses in Madison and Carrollton hope even more customers will shop locally today.

Thanks to a promotion started by American Express in 2010, the annual Small Business Saturday event encourages customers to support local businesses the day after Black Friday and before the Cyber Monday events.

Something Simple has participated in the Small Business Saturday since its inception in 2010, owner Lucy Dattilo said.

Dattilo said the event started out as a marking tool for small businesses and continues to grow each year with more people supporting local businesses to keep money in the community.

"We have a great weekend," Dattilo said of the shopping events.

More than 100 million people across the nation shopped at independently-owned small businesses in 2010, and this year's promotions are expected to be even larger.

Cocoa Safari Chocolates also participates in the Small Business Saturday initiative.

"It brings more people in," Fine said, but she said she doesn't know if the increase of business can be directly related to the Black Friday and Small Business Saturday initiatives or just because people are getting ready for the holiday season.

Yet even with the national advertising campaigns leading up to the Small Business Saturday event, Fine isn't sure if the increase of customers are linked to the special deals offered by the companies or because of the shopping frenzy of the holidays.

"It's really kind of hard to tell," Fine said. "It's a shopping weekend anyway."