As Alaskans begin their Christmas shopping this weekend with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Anchorage businesses are asking residents to think local for savings as well.

Theresa Floten, visiting Anchorage from Portland this weekend, will not go home empty-handed. Neither will her husband, Storm.

The Flotens found treasure downtown at the Alaska Mint, which they visited after they saw it featured on television.

"It was about the gold quartz, and I had never seen it before, so I wanted to come take a look at it," Theresa Floten said.

She and her husband did more than browse, much to the delight of store owner Mike Robuck.

"It's a long winter, so we rely on the sales that we get," Robuck said.

With nearly 70 percent of the mint's business occurring during the summer, Robuck looks for ways to improve sales during the winter.

The Alaska Mint is among a record 33 businesses that took part in the Anchorage Downtown Partnership's annual Small Business Saturday program.

With downtown customer traffic down sharply from its summer peak, the partnership created the program to draw more people into the area.

"There tends to be an effect where people stay inside, and they don't travel out," said partnership spokesperson Penny Smythe. "It's more than supporting your local economy with money; it's getting to know the shop owners." 

Dozens of local businesses offered Saturday deals to customers who shop with them. In the case of the Alaska Mint, it was free shipping to those who spend at least $100.

"We don't see a big spike in sales or anything like that, but people are aware of it (and) appreciate it; we do too," Robuck said. "We're going to go out and do our shopping locally as well," said Robuck.

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