There were a whole lot of reasons to shop locally during Small Business Saturday in Maine.

Not only were independently owned shops in downtowns across the state offering special deals and savings, but many were raising money for good causes.

Small Business Saturday is their answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Local business owners in Portland, Brunswick, Skowhegan, Bangor and other downtowns in Maine and across the U.S. promote the Saturday after Thanksgiving as a day for consumers to go Christmas shopping and keep their money in their own communities, rather than spend it at national chains or with online retailers.

In the Portland Downtown District, it was also Shop for a Cause Day to help raise money for Preble Street, which provides services to the homeless and needy. More than three dozen shops pledged part of their Saturday proceeds to Preble Street.

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express six years ago and has steadily grown in Maine. Nationally, 8 million consumers shopped on Small Business Saturday last year, up 15 percent from the year before. They collectively spent $14.3 billion on that day in 2014.

Shops on Congress Street in the East End were especially enthusiastic about the day. Blue and white balloons lined the street, welcome mats were put out and window signs greeted shoppers.

“We got the balloons. We got the bags,” said Diane Toepfer, owner of Ferdinand at 243 Congress St., which sells handcrafted items.

Toepfer said Small Business Saturday is good for her store and her customers who seek out locally owned businesses.

“The people who like this sort of stuff are smart and nice,” she said.

Tonya Sattin, owner of Circa Home and Vintage at 247 Congress St., was offering several deals, including a sale on German Advent calendars and organic woolen dolls.

“I don’t like to let these opportunities slip by,” she said.

Sattin, who opened the shop three years ago, said Small Business Saturday is a hit with her customers.

“People love this day and turn out in droves. It is festive,” she said.

At Carlson & Turner Antiquarian Books at 241 Congress St., owners Cathy and Scott Wilson got into the spirit by dressing their 12-year-old border collie, Layne, in a Small Business Saturday bandanna.

Shoppers said they came out to take advantage of Small Business Saturday and get some early Christmas shopping done.

Susan Baxter of Portland said she started out intending to go to the Portland Farmers’ Market but discovered it wasn’t open and decided to shift gears.

“Now I am looking for stocking stuffers,” said Baxter, toting a free Small Business Saturday cloth shopping bag from a participating merchant.

Jana Magnuson of Portland said her husband reminded her that it was Small Business Saturday, which they patronized last year as well. Magnuson said by late Saturday morning they had hit a bookstore, Circa Home and a bakery.

The bakery goods “are already gone,” she said.