Imagine how dull your city would be without your favourite little restaurant, go-to boutique, trendy little neighbourhood coffee shop or networking events full of entrepreneurs. American Express Canada celebrates and supports the role of small businesses all month long with their ‘Shop Small’ program. In a time where stores like Target and Marshall’s have found their way to Canada, the goal of the program is straightforward: to keep local, small merchants top of mind and encourage them to shop small. The Shop Small movement is all about supporting small businesses that stimulate our cities and keep our communities thriving.
A survey conducted by American Express Canada, the American Express Shop Small Monitor, revealed that 81 per cent of Canadians feel that they owe it to their community to support the independent small businesses on their local Main Street. After all, it is the small businesses, local restaurants and shops that give urban neighbourhoods their distinct feel. The sample of 2,010 Canadian shoppers cites supporting entrepreneurs (73 per cent), and keeping funds in the local community (70 per cent) as top reasons to shop small. Ninety per cent agree that small businesses make a significant economic contribution to their community and 94 per cent agree that small businesses contribute to their neighbourhood’s culture. Many even like to establish relationships with local shop owners in their neighbourhoods.
“We love that Canadians already have such a passion for supporting small businesses,” says Jennifer Hawkins, Vice President and General Manager of Merchant Services, American Express Canada. “Shop Small provides an opportunity to harness Canadians’ enthusiasm for small businesses and celebrates their impact on local communities and the economy.”
Shop Small started in Toronto with a program to bring both consumers and small businesses together throughout the month of April. This initiative aims to celebrate and support many of the often-unsung drivers of the economy – the thousands of small business owners who make the city unique. Since November 2012, a widespread campaign to rally small businesses and community leaders to support the program has been underway in Toronto. To date, more than 4,000 merchants in Toronto have joined the Shop Small Network and leaders in government such as Mayor Rob Ford (seriously) are joining the movement to shop small.
Shop Small participating merchants include some of our favourite Toronto yoga studios, restaurants, boutiques and destinations for shameless sweet indulgences, like 889 Yoga and Wellness Spa, Spirithouse, beloved boutique Preloved and Queen West’s go-to for macarons of all flavours, Nadege (plus many more!).
“We are proud to be part of the Shop Small initiative because it draws attention to businesses like mine that have significant social impact in the area of well-being,” says Emily Ridout, Co-Founder of 889 Yoga + Wellness Spa. “It’s exciting to be put in the spotlight and to be given the opportunity to access even more people to inspire and care for.”
“I love that American Express is supporting small businesses like mine through the Shop Small program,” said Julia Grieve, founder and CEO of Preloved. “ It’s exciting to be recognized and be given the opportunity for exposure that we may not typically receive.”
Amex is on the hunt for Toronto’s next neighbourhood gem. To celebrate the launch of Shop Small, American Express has launched a campaign on Facebook to profile their network of merchants. Torontonians are asked to show their love for their favourite Shop Small business in Toronto by voting for them on an interactive map on the page. People can vote for their favourite Shop Small business and vote once per day until April 21st. Each vote earns you an entry into a daily draw to win a $50 American Express Gift Card. Voters are encouraged to return back the closing week of April 29 – May 5 to vote from the top five businesses. The business that receives the most votes by May 5 will be crowned Toronto’s Neighbourhood Gem and will receive a one-on-one social marketing consultation with Facebook Canada and an American Express advertorial in Toronto Life magazine – as any young entrepreneur knows, this prize could mean big things for a small business.
Remember, without small businesses, we’d all dress the same, lose the experience of trying a new restaurant, lose the vibrancy of urban neighbourhoods and probably never start a sentence with “I know this great place for…”
Take it down a notch; start shopping small.
Join the conversation with #ShopSmall and check out this great video.