As the COVID-19 case count drops and vaccination numbers climb, pandemic precautions are easing and people are returning to work and play. Businesses that were hanging on by a thread are starting to bounce back, but it’s slow going. We all know how difficult the past 18 months have been for everyone, but it’s been especially hard on Arizonans who own small businesses. Valley native Jaime Cerreta, who launched her popular feature Jaime’s Local Love to spotlight hidden gems, teamed up with Local First Arizona to help those struggling businesses owners by encouraging “cash mobs” to spend their hard-earned money locally.
That’s why Arizona’s Family, Local First Arizona, Cox Business, and National Bank of Arizona launched a contest designed to help three locally owned businesses make their recoveries, expand, thrive, and invest more in their communities. Without further ado…
Our winners really are small businesses. They have a total of 31 employees among them. Runner-up – Songbird Coffee & Tea House
The contest was open to business owners with between five and 200 employees. We asked them how they reinvented in their business in 2020 – the pandemic pivot – and what they’re doing to be successful moving forward. We also asked what they want Arizonans to know about them and their company. The grand prize is a $5,000 check and a $10,000 advertising campaign on 3TV and News5. Two runners-up will get digital media advertising worth $5,000.
When in-person business essentially ground to a halt last year, Songbird Coffee & Tea House shifted its business to the doorway – serving only walk-up customers. “We sweat through summer and shivered through winter, but we made it work,” sole owner Erin Westgate said. (Source: via Facebook)
Songbird, which has eight employees, also used the time to make some improvements to their space in a 1904 house in the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts District. Not only did they spruce up the inside, they updated their patio to make it an inviting place for people to hang out and enjoy their coffee, tea, and house-made pastries. While surrounded by high rises emblematic of the rapid growth of downtown Phoenix, Songbird remains an organic oasis with flowers and park bench-style tables outdoors. Supporting other Arizona business, Songbird uses freshly roasted beans curated by Cortez Coffee Roaster of Tempe, and loose leaf tea from Maya Tea Company in Tucson. Songbird embraced the culture of supporting the community and other local business owners. When they started selling lunches, they turned around and made in-kind donation to Circle the City, a nonprofit organization that provides healthcare to those experiencing homelessness in Phoenix. The next move was to team up with two other restaurants to create collaborative dinners to-go. Contest judges say they loved those partnerships.
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