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How shopping small this holiday season makes a big impact at local stores

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SALT LAKE CITY — There's a big push this holiday season to shop small, as in small business. The locally owned The Tutoring Toy right off Foothill Boulevard in Salt Lake City, has a lot to offer.

The owner left corporate America to offer a more personalized experience for local shoppers to find a toy that will help their child thrive.

"We're a specialty toy business. We have toys from Sweden, Denmark, Germany," said Bill Sartain, owner of The Tutoring Toy.

They're stocked with 25,000 toys, all offering fun and learning.

"We organize by age based on what is going on developmentally," Sartain said.

He has operated the neighborhood toy store since 1988. This holiday season, he's banking on the community to keep his doors open and lights on.

"It's the fourth quarter. So, we hold our breath for the nine months and then wait for the 10, 11, 12 month."

Despite the impacts of inflation, customers are shopping and their numbers are up this year. But, the last two years were rough, Sartain explained.

They closed for more than three months during the pandemic.

"We have not totally recovered from that," the toy store owner said. "But, we see that we are well on the way. We're better than we were last year, for instance. So that's why we're optimistic."

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has been a regular customer over the years. She said shopping small makes a big impact.

"For every dollar you spend at a local business, 55 cents stays right here in the community. Whereas at a chain store, only 14 cents stay in our community," she said.

She added that the in-person experience is priceless.

"We have a lot of people coming in saying, 'I don't know what to get my 3-year-old' or 'My 4-year-old has everything.' Let us help," Sartain said.

Even if you don't buy anything, the owners say they hope you'll feel some joy when you step inside their store.


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Tamara Vaifanua


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