The Austin Weekly News will feature holiday stories in and about Austin in the next two issues leading up to Christmas, Dec. 25.

Probably the only people who love the Christmas shopping season more than the 7-year-olds leaving milk and cookies near the fireplace, are big-name retailers who feel it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Companies such as Wal-Mart and Marshall Field’s (soon to be Macy’s) have both the clout and resources to advertise their goods in community newspapers. Sometimes you do need money to make more money.

Meanwhile, small businesses are looking to boost revenues during the holiday shopping season. The task can be a daunting one, especially as shoppers are lured away to large strip malls.

Austin Chamber of Commerce wants shoppers to recognize these small businesses available within their community, because support for them would greatly impact the Austin’s economy.

The Austin Chamber’s fourth annual Holiday Business Fest on Dec. 3, at LaFollette Park, 1333 N. Laramie, showcased a variety of community vendors.

“I sell Annie Lee products, which I feel really reflect African-American heritage,” said Diane Smith, owner of Crafts By Diane.

Her products include snow globes, African paintings, decorative satchels, and holiday cards. The store is located at 1133 Lake St. in Oak Park.

“It is so important that we be aware where these black-owned establishments are so that we can invest in our own communities,” Smith said.

“I started out as a business suit designer but in 2003 decided to start my own business,” said Sheril Patrice, founder of Rudimentary Objects at 5425 W. Madison St., which sells artistic jewelry. “It can be challenging being a small business, selling a product that is more a luxury rather than a necessity, but I immensely enjoy creating a piece and seeing that patrons appreciate my designs.”

Camille Lilly, president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, echoed vendors’ sentiments.

“We are consumers and we contribute billions of dollars annually to this economy. We have a right to have the opportunity to know where the businesses in our communities are, so that we can support those businesses if we so choose,” Lilly said. “If we don’t support our own businesses no one else will.”

Entertainment for the fest was provided in part by the tap-dancing ensemble from Local-Motions, a performing arts program geared toward children and adults. Local-Motions has classes for ages 2 and up, including Ballet, Jazz and Tap.

This was also the first year of the healthy holiday workshop at the fest where vendors from Loretto and McCraney Family Chiropractic offered free cholesterol and spinal test screenings.

For those interested in contacting vendors, below is a list of numbers:

Rudimentary Objects 773/343-9655; Avanti Elegant Boutique 773/378-8514 (“sells affordable fashions for the unique woman of all sizes”); Tabitha House 773/261-4359; Home Interiors 773/378-6500; African-Accents 773/626-4497; Crafts by Diane 708/386-8800; Afriware 708/524-8398; Dee’s Pamper Room 773/908-8005; Rymm Wear 773/272-5548; Dandridge Hardware 773/626-7943; Thaz is Thaz All Fashions 773/626-5866; McCraney Family Chiropractic 708/445-7615.