PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Three Phoenix-area small businesses are getting a big boost thanks to the Arizona’s Family "Show the Love" Small Business Contest.
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.
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.
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.
The grand prize is a $5,000 check and a $10,000 advertising campaign on 3TV and CBS 5. Two runners-up will get digital media advertising worth $5,000.
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.
Our winners really are small businesses. They have a total of 31 employees among them.
Without further ado…
Grand Prize Winner -- Batch Cookie Shop
“People said we were crazy to start a brand-new business during a pandemic, marketing manager Chelsea Warren wrote in Batch Cookie Shop’s entry. “Despite the doubters, our cookie shop evolved from a dream to a brick-and-mortar store in the course of a year.”
Warren said Batch started in the family’s kitchen. They sold treats to their friends and neighbors.
“When we discovered a huge appetite for our gourmet treats, we launched a weekly pop-up shop out of a local restaurant,” she said. Batch Cookie Shop took the next step earlier this year when it opened its shop on the corner of Baseline and Higley roads. The company now has 15 employees.
Warren said it would have been easy to invest in franchising an existing concept, but they wanted to create something new and build a values-driven company while investing in the local community. She said the company’s “ultimate motivation” – aside from yummy cookies – is “to foster connection and sweetness in our community.”
Batch does that with its weekly Eat Sweet Be Sweet service challenge on social media. Those who take part and post about it are entered into a drawing for a free box of cookies. “Everything we do -- from our cookies and packaging to the in-store experience -- is about brightening someone’s day,” Warren said.
Runner-up – Songbird Coffee & Tea House
Songbird embraced the culture of supporting the community and other local business owners. (Sponsored by Cox Business, National Bank of Arizon…
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.
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.
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, 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.
Runner-up – Accurate Air Conditioning Inc.
The family that owns and operates Tempe-based Accurate Air puts people before profits, believing that the only way to build a dedicated follow…
The pandemic was not the only challenge Accurate Air Conditioning Inc. faced last year. The family lost their father and company founder, Jim Wood. “We sought to carry on his legacy, while also navigating the new climate created by the pandemic,” Sandra Zurick said in the company’s entry. “We needed to find ways to help the business flourish during the global shutdown, while also catering to the safety needs of our customers.”
That in mind, they started offering new services – professional duct cleaning and air purification. And they made sure their tech visits were as contactless as possible. “Our duct cleaning business and air purification service sets us apart from other companies, while also prioritizing customer safety and increasing overall profit,” Zurick said.
A family-owned business since 1965, Zurick said Accurate Air puts people before profits and they believe in long-term relationships. “Call us old-fashioned, but as a family-owned and operated air conditioning company, we’ve always believed that the only way to build a dedicated following is to show loyalty and integrity in every aspect of the business. … Our customers are our family.”