Shop small, make a difference with BDO & American Express

TOP STORY – More than a year into the pandemic, everyone’s goal is to bounce back. For local businesses, the Filipino trait of ingenuity and malasakit have endured during these times. Many shops, big and small, are constantly finding new and innovative ways to cope and stay afloat.

 

Restaurants like Mary Grace, known for providing customers with a homey dining experience, had to rethink their operations. According to Chiara Hugo, Marketing Head of Mary Grace Café, the extended lockdowns posed the biggest challenge: “How do we bring the Mary Grace experience to our loyal customers at home?”

 

Aside from partnering with more delivery partners, they’ve boosted their online presence and customer service. To remain competitive, they adapted digitally, but made sure to never stray from the “soul and spirit of Mary Grace.”

 

“My mom (Mary Grace Dimacali, who started the famous café) told us to ‘never forget who you are.’ If you know that your product is good and you’ve been doing it for a long time and customers like it, stick to it. No need to jump on trends and fads; and don’t be afraid of competitors.”

 

Soul and spirit. During the pandemic, Mary Grace Café boosted its online presence and customer service to bring the “soul and spirit of Mary Grace” into everyone’s home. In the photo is owner Mary Grace Dimacali.

 

Real Food, a brick and mortar shop for clean, healthy, organic, local, food finds, was able to keep their two branches open throughout the pandemic—no small feat during the difficult Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) days. But to augment operations, they upgraded their website to be able cater to their customers through online orders.

 

Owners Nicole Fandino and Honey Almendral realized that it was no longer just about the business anymore. “The epiphany we had during the pandemic was that Real Food is part of an ecosystem. If we closed our shops, the farmers and microenterprises that supply us would suffer, as would our customers who depend on us for their healthy food choices.”

 

Not just a business. Real Food was driven to sustain an ecosystem which includes farmers and microenterprises. In the photo are owners (clockwise from top left) Bea Lhuillier, Honey Almendral, Katrina Mañosa, and Nicole Fandiño.

 

High-end specialty shops like Santis Delicatessen, on the other hand, focused on prioritizing the health and safety of their people and partners.

 

“We agree in supporting small businesses to help them survive in this challenging time. By buying from our stores, you are helping our employees make a living,” said Werner Berger, CEO of the renowned shop for curated gourmet finds, who has lived through many economic crises since the store was established some 35 years ago. 

 


Proud survivor. Santis Delicatessen has supported its employees and survived many economic crises over the past 35 years. In the photo is Werner Berger, CEO of Werdenberg Corporation-Santis Delicatessen.

 

Gourdo’s, another a specialty store that sells kitchenware, tableware, and bed and bath products, had to learn how to connect and cater to their customers who were no longer able to head to their stores.

 

Susan San Miguel, the General Manager of Gourdo’s, worked closely with their teams to continue delivering excellent services—opening up more avenues for customer support, boosting online media presence, and adjusting to the faster pace of e-commerce. And when it comes to evolving and staying afloat, San Miguel shared a bit of advice and wisdom for other entrepreneurs.

 

“It is important to get a grasp of what the present situation calls for and adjust your sails to go with the demand and change in the retail environment. Know and accept that things have changed and adapt quickly. We can use the present situation to assess what our strengths and weaknesses are and to evolve as a company to still foster growth and re-think what is really important,” said San Miguel.

 


Adaptability at its best. For Gourdo’s, adapting quickly to changing business landscapes is key to its success. In the photo is Gourdo’s General Manager Susan San Miguel.

 

With everyone encouraged to stay indoors, keeping fit and active has been a challenge for many Filipinos. Runnr, a running specialty retailer, and Toby’s Sports, the go-to store for everything fitness and sports, saw the opportunity to jump in and help.

 

“Just like other retailers, the pandemic has greatly affected our business. All of our physical stores are in malls, so when the malls closed, we had zero revenue coming in from that channel,” shared Toby Claudio, president of Quorum International Inc., the parent company of Runnr and Toby’s Sports.

 

Fortunately, despite having to close some branches, they had an agile system in place that allowed their business to grow in the digital sphere, and soon they were leading a “movement,” helping hundreds stay fit and healthy—both mentally and physically—while at home.

 


Leading a movement. Runnr and Toby’s Sports have helped Filipinos stay active even while at home In the photo is Toby Claudio, President of Quorum International Inc., parent company of runnr and Toby's Sports.

 

While local shops like Mary Grace, Real Food, Gourdo’s, Santi’s, and Runnr and Toby’s Sports have taken leaps to adapt to the “new normal” and protect their people, they also seek the greater support of the community to ensure their continued business. By supporting local, you can make a difference.

 

Now, with your BDO-issued American Express Cards, you can help these local businesses bounce back. Shop at participating American Express Shop Small merchants and earn 5X Rewards (terms and conditions apply) until June 30, 2021.

 

With over 1,000 merchant locations, ranging from retail shops, restaurants, and specialty stores. Reward points earned can be used to redeem a reward of choice from a selection of gift certificates, gadgets, appliance, air miles and more.

 

When you shop small, you help not only businesses, but entire communities. Help sustain livelihoods and support local.

 

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