By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Ready to shop but want to avoid the crowds? Your neighborhood shop owners are ready to serve.

Pat Warren reports small businesses are trying to stay afloat despite heavy competition.

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Small shop owners elbowed out by the big box stores are working hard to stake a claim this Christmas shopping season. Working outside the box, so to speak, is how they stay in business.

Bryans is one of the Hampden stores with unique gift ideas. Urban Baby, in its own infancy stages, is more specialized. Like other shop owners throughout Baltimore, this is their golden time.

“Everyone’s heading to the big box stores. Everyone’s worried about money but we need to keep the money so all these great little shopping districts in Baltimore stay around,” said Cara Schrock, Urban Baby.

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Baltimore Magazine is giving those little shops a boost with its gift guide this month.

“‘Cause you’re always looking for inspiration around the holidays and there’s so many great shops in the Baltimore region,” said Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine.

Trohv on the Avenue is one of the stores Baltimore Magazine recommends for finding just the right thing. Karen Mintiens and her friend are sold on the experience.

“We love the small shops. We love all the different things you can buy and the personal service,” Mintiens said.

So rather than blow the whole wad on Black Friday, maybe throw a little business your neighborhood shop’s way.

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Baltimore Magazine publishes a gift guide every year.