AUSTIN (KXAN) - Running a small local business can be a challenge in Austin and during the holiday shopping season they're often overlooked for bigger chain stores with more money. But now the "little guys" are getting some big help.
Seven months ago, Andrea Martin decided to take a leap of faith and open up Jackie's Play and Stay
here in town. While being your own boss has been rewarding in some aspects, she says it's come with some challenges.
"We're a dog daycare and boarding facility," said Martin. "Trying to get your name out there, trying to build your clientele and making sure people know you're here is very important."
She says those tasks are made even harder when competing against national chain stores.
"Its hard to remember the local guys because you don't see us on TV, because we don't have all the capital behind us," said Martin.
The City of Austin is now working to even the playing field for small local businesses by making sure help is just a click away. They've created a website called locallyaustin.org.
"Whether you're shopping, or looking for a service, or are looking to eat and drink after a long day we think it's a great time to find your local businesses," said Joy Miller with the City's Small Business Development Program.
Businesses founded here in Austin that aren't national chains can sign up. For users it's a one-stop spot to shop locally and make sure your dollars stay here in town.
Steve Simmons, owner of Amy's Ice Cream and Phil's Icehouse, has been working to bring local businesses together for years.
"Local businesses hire local people and they spend their money locally," said Simmons.
He came up with an idea to create shopping centers with only Austin based businesses called Austinvilles.
"What it is, is a collection of local businesses," said Simmons. "We like knowing who our tenants are, we like knowing who our neighbors are."
He says leaving out the big chains can bring about a sense of community to the area. It's also a big piece in keeping Austin weird.
"The character of Austin comes from its people," said Simmons. "If you lose sight of the local tenants it all becomes another strip mall that you see everywhere else."