The pandemic has definitely done a number on small business owners this year as they struggle to overcome unprecedented challenges. According to statistics from American Express' Small Business Recovery Research, 53% of these business owners are nervous about being able to make it to 2021. It's easy to see why, with COVID-19 forcing them to close for months, resulting in tons of lost revenue. 

One of the worst consequences of the pandemic may be the shutting down of countless mom and pop stores that make our neighbourhoods vibrant and beautiful. Help is necessary as 51% of small businesses need a sharp recovery for their livelihood to remain viable. Though they're resilient and ready to rebuild, they can't do it alone. Being as caring as we're generally known to be, 83% of Canadians agree that it's time to rally around small businesses.

American Express wants to reward you for lending a helping hand and shopping locally as often as possible. The company is standing by small businesses with its Shop Small program. Until September 13, 2020, Amex Cardmembers could be eligible to earn $5 back in credits when they spend at least $10 at up to 10 different participating small businesses in Canada, allowing them to earn up to $50 in credits.

The Shop Small program is another great reason to support the businesses that make our community special. Whether you’re purchasing in-store, curbside or online, Amex is committed to helping the local economy — and rewarding you. If you're unsure where to start, here are three of the many local small businesses that bring something unique to Toronto.

SugarKane

SugarKane is a full-service restaurant and catering service, serving up bold, sweet spices of the Caribbean, fused with a spicy Cajun kick. The eatery opened a year ago on the Danforth, quickly becoming a local favourite with its mouthwatering meals. 

When COVID-19 hit full force, the business was forced to shut down and reevaluate how to navigate this crisis. They decided to offer takeout and delivery for the first time, as a means to survive through the hard months of the pandemic. Business was slow at first, but word spread and customers kept coming back — even leaving large tips to help out.

"We've been so overwhelmed by customer support during this very scary time," said restaurant owner Nicky. 

If SugarKane hopes to survive this uncertain time, then more support is needed, which is why shopping locally is crucial.

The Dirty Bird

Another local business that makes Toronto vibrant is The Dirty Bird. At their Kensington Avenue location, they serve the highest quality fresh and locally sourced food and have always been committed to providing an authentic and innovative dine-out experience.  

Customers can't live the full restaurant experience there quite yet but can enjoy their delicious fried chicken and waffles for takeout or delivery.

"The community has been wonderful, and without them, we might not be around anymore," said Daniel Quintas, partner at The Dirty Bird.

Although the last few months have been rough on this small business, they've benefited from a strong community response so far. But to make it to next year, they need this support to continue, which is why Amex has stepped in with their Shop Small program

Aba's Bagel Company

Another well-loved family-run business is Aba's Bagel Company, a staple of the Cedarvale community for the last 15 years. The local bakery decided to open a second location this year — and to say that it's been challenging would be an understatement.

Still, they've found that it's also been a great opportunity to better serve their community — one of their top priorities. As a way to protect everyone and keep customers happy, they started delivering bagel and schmear packages. They were met with many smiles and tons of positivity, inspiring them to start #Bagelitforward. This initiative allows you to send bagel packages with all the fixins to your loved ones. To show their appreciation, the Aba's Bagel team also dropped off large bagel packages at first-responders' homes, food banks, and seniors' homes across the GTA. What a tasty way to say thank you.

"Now, when things are more challenging for everyone than ever, we're not resting until we know that the families around us are supported and well-fed," said owner Arie Gershon. 

SugarKane, The Dirty Bird, and Aba's Bagel Company all have one thing in common: these local businesses care about their community. They're there to support everyone when times get tough.  

Fundamentally, small businesses need support so that they can survive too, so let's go out there and encourage them! Whether you purchase in-store, curbside or through delivery, American Express is giving you a way to make some money back in the process. During a year when it feels like everyone has lost, this is a way for everyone to win.

For more information on Shop Small and full program terms, visit the Amex website or check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 
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