While the pandemic hit small businesses and their owners especially during the past year and a half, these business owners are still thankful. Find out what’s kept them going, and how credit cards have helped them along the way.
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Small businesses across the country crossed into uncharted territory when the COVID-19 pandemic took root in the U.S. in early 2020. Many businesses faced extreme hardships, including mandated shutdowns, tight regulations, labor shortages, supply chain troubles and a rapidly changing economy. Some downsized or made radical shifts, while others closed for good.
Today, amidst the holiday season, the founders and owners from different industries who survived the worst are looking back with special appreciation on those who kept them afloat. Because of them, the future of their businesses is bright.
Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.
Danielle Vincent, CEO of Outlaw Soaps, Inc.: Grateful for her diverse clientele
Danielle Vincent of Sparks, Nevada, opened her American adventure theme soap company, Outlaw Soaps, nine years ago. The past two years, while incredibly tough, have also been the best. She credits her customers, who reached out via social media to send well wishes and offer support as they struggled to stay in business.
“Being grateful to them doesn’t begin to cover it,” says Vincent. “They’ve made me a better person, both as a business owner and as a human being. They’re always pushing for the company’s best interests, which is pretty outstanding for a little soap and cologne business!”
In fact, doing business with people from all over the world has made Vincent more compassionate.
“I get choked up about it,” says Vincent. “These are divisive times with political differences. But my customers are so diverse. We serve everyone – every race, culture, age group. They are universally kind and wonderful. It’s changed my perspective on humanity and broken my stereotypes. Now I have a much more equitable view of people, which is such a gift.”
Vincent is also grateful for her three credit cards, which are all from American Express: American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, American Express® Business Gold Card and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express.
“They give us breathing room for when we have to pay. The cards allow us to grow. We get free stuff from the rewards, too!”
Daniel Hess, filmmaker: Grateful for people who reached out to say thanks and offer help
Everyone with a smartphone can be an amateur photographer and videographer. It’s not the same as hiring a professional to document an important event, though. Daniel Hess, a Baltimore filmmaker is the owner of To Tony Productions (named after his cousin passed away from cystic fibrosis at the age of 14), and he’s thankful for the couples who understand the value of expert photography.
“I am most grateful for the support of all the amazing couples that we have worked with over the years with our wedding videography,” says Hess. “Every year, we are part of the amazing special day for so many people’s lives, and the outpouring of support we get in return cannot be understated – from holiday cards to birthday messages to just a word of thanks on their anniversary. It is something that not only I but all the folks that work with To Tony Productions will forever be grateful for.”
Hess’s feelings intensified during the pandemic. His calendar was shaping up to be his best year yet. Within a week and a half, everything was gone.
“I was beside myself,” says Hess. “I had no idea what would happen. I was sharing what was happening online, and a lot of couples reached out to offer positive reinforcement, including financial. I told them we’d be fine, we’d steer this ship somehow, but the fact that they took the time to chat with me meant everything. Now business is picking up again, and I credit them for coming back, for recommending me to others.”
As far as credit cards go, Hess uses the United℠ Explorer Card. “I like getting the miles because they go a long way,” he says. “I got the card after I took a trip to China on United. I loved the airline, so I knew this was the card for me.”
Matthew Meier, founder of MaxTour: Grateful for brave and committed travelers
Matthew Meier is the founder of MaxTour in Las Vegas, a six-year-old group tour company that takes visitors to sites such as the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. His company was particularly hurt by the pandemic: As people stayed put to weather out the worst, Las Vegas was essentially closed.
“Emotionally, we were a wreck,” says Meier. “We had to lay off our entire staff and barely survived. It was terrible. We had to take out lots of loans.”
MaxTour is just now getting back to pre-pandemic business levels, and Hess couldn’t be more appreciative of those who started to return.
“I am so grateful for our guests this year,” says Meier. “To go to Las Vegas in the middle of a pandemic and support our struggling city, we couldn’t be more grateful for them! They overcame adversity. Traveling is more difficult and dangerous now, but they’re going from their state to our state, which means they have to overcome fear. People are more generous with their gratuities, too. As an industry, it shows resilience. Some wrote travel off, saying it doesn’t have a future. That’s been proven wrong.”
The company has rebounded, and Meier is feeling great. They’ve hired 11 people and are back to helping people fulfill their destination bucket list. “You don’t miss the water until the well goes dry,” he says. “There’s a new sense of appreciation.”
Meier uses his Capital One Spark Cash Plus, as well as the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card for the points, which he redeems for holiday gift cards for his employees.
Adam Mesnick, owner of Deli Board: Grateful for a strong and loving community
Adam Mesnick, owner of Deli Board
San Francisco restaurateur Adam Mesnick has been operating his famed sandwich shop, Deli Board, for 12 years. Located in the city’s South of Market neighborhood, the area has been experiencing a crime wave that has taken a toll on the entire district. When the pandemic hit, those problems intensified and other difficulties came into play.
“We had supply chain issues, a COVID health scare and more city street challenges,” says Mesnick. “During it all, I had to support my staff and their needs.”
To remain open, Mesnick knew he had to take an assertive approach. “I fought as hard as I could while keeping a level head,” he says. “It was about thinking logically and taking it in stride until I could make it safely to the other side.”
Mesnick says the San Francisco community helped him the most through the worst of the crises, for which he is deeply grateful. “My neighbors and the city’s residents supported us under all circumstances,” he says, “They are a very special group of people who for sure need to be thanked.”
And now Mesnick has a new credit card as well, something he hasn’t had since 2009. “I got a Chase Freedom Flex℠,” says Mesnick. “It’s easy to use and pay off online.” With all he has to contend with, simplicity is particularly valuable.
Almost all small business owners who kept their ventures open these past couple of years share a similar quality: resilience. They also know that they do not and cannot function alone. From their clients, customers, employees, the community at large and even credit card companies, COVID made it clear that we are all in this together.
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