NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) — New York is helping independent merchants by pioneering Small Business Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — two of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Business owners who signed up get $100 worth of Facebook advertising, financed by American Express.

The credit card company also promises $25 credit to clients at small stores and boutiques Saturday. The plan was launched earlier this month by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault.

“Black Friday is mostly for big stores, so it’s nice to have an incentive to shop in your own neighborhood,” said Kari Johnson, manager of Whisk, a cookware store with two venues, in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. “We’re doing it to get people out to shop locally.”

The mayor says small businesses “are the backbone of our economy and the glue that holds communities together.”

Participants included the Crawford Doyle Booksellers on Manhattan’s East Side.

Manager Thomas Talbot said he didn’t think many New Yorkers had heard about the first Small Business Saturday.

“But I feel that if people really knew about it, they’d be getting a free book —  paid for with the $25 credit — and they might buy another one,” he said. “That’s an incentive that would work on me.”

Word about Small Business Saturday was spread on Facebook and Twitter.

Matthew Slotkin, a Manhattan resident looking at Crawford’s window display, said he wasn’t aware of the campaign. But the33-year-old Slotkin said he prefers independent stores and would support any efforts to help them.

“I like small stores,” he said. “It offers you more personal service.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he was going to shop at small, local businesses and hoped others would join him.

Decorations were also springing up on lawns and homes around the area, and freshly-cut Christmas trees were on sale.

1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney reports

Phil Walston on the Upper West Side told 1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney it was not too early to pick one up.

“It’s the perfect season. The tree lasts right until the new year, actually three days after New Year’s,” Walston said.

Many shops were pleased with the Black Friday crowds.

“They call it Black Friday because that is indeed the time when all the retailers start to make money in these last several weeks of the year, so it is very important for us. In terms of how that impacts the economy, it’s extremely important. Retail and restaurants represent one in five jobs in America,” said Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren.

Next comes Cyber Monday, when CNET executive Molly Woods says you’ll find hot deals online. “Walmart always has really good laptop deals. They’re going to have one that’s $198.”

And don’t forget to save some change for the sidewalk Santas out ringing their bells.

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