MSP Jeane Freeman has been touring her constituency to mark Small Business Saturday this weekend.

Small Business Saturday, which launched in 2010, has grown from a grass-roots campaign encouraging consumers to shop local, into an annual event that takes place on the first Saturday of December.

The Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP wanted to see for herself the contribution small businesses make to the local economy.

Ms Freeman said: “I know how difficult it can be for small businesses to compete in an ever tougher market that is increasingly dominated by the big chains and online shopping.

“However, I also know that buying from a locally owned business means the money is much more likely to stay in our community, provide employment and benefit our local economy.

“The Scottish Government has taken strong action to support local businesses by introducing the Small Business Bonus supporting small businesses by reducing their rates liability and taking some firms out of business rates altogether which has benefited 1909 businesses across East Ayrshire in the past year.”

As part of the campaign, Ms Freeman visited Carol Speir, owner of Many Thanks gift shop in Mauchline, which specialises in hand made Scottish gifts and crafts, to hear some of the challenges that small businesses are facing and to see what these unique businesses can offer customers.

Visits were also paid to the newly opened Sibling Scents run by sisters Leanne, Lynsey & Janene selling a range of handmade wax scents and other unique gifts from their newly opened Cumnock shop and to longer established businesses, the Pet Stop and Coffee Mill, in Cumnock’s Glaisnock Street.