When local businesses need us, Albertans step up—and shout it out.
By ATB Financial 1 April 2021 4 min read
We don’t need to tell you it’s been a challenging year for Alberta businesses. Over the past 12 months, Alberta entrepreneurs have tirelessly and courageously adapted to stay afloat.
At ATB, we’ve been helping businesses get through the challenges they’re facing, and it goes beyond bank loans and deferrals. This is one of many great things about being a regional financial institution—we can help build a circle of support around the businesses right here in our province. We’re big enough—and yet local enough—to make a real difference.
If the last three months have taught us anything, it’s that a future where local businesses are even more central to the communities they serve, creating jobs and vitalizing our neighbourhoods, is possible. Albertans won’t have it any other way.
Our billboards say it best—keep a business you love in business.
We kicked off 2021 by using our social networks to invite Albertans to share stories of the local businesses they love. We focused on restaurants in January, Black-owned businesses in February and women-owned businesses in March. We learned Albertans’ passion and loyalty for these businesses runs deep—and that loyalty is what has kept so many local entrepreneurs going.
"We’ve got a really loyal client base of people that love what we’re doing. They really love and support us. And I think that’s been one of the most encouraging things to see...it’s been sustained positive energy that’s been really, really great."
Nate Box, Fox Burger
Albertans championed local businesses with their words and their wallets.
Each month, we took to Instagram to ask Albertans to tag their favourite restaurant/takeout spots, Black-owned businesses and women-owned businesses, and tell us why. Albertans had plenty to say.
They shouted out Loco Burro’s burrito bowls in Vegreville, proposed marriage to the brunch menu at Edmonton’s Under the High Wheel and worshipped the crab cake benny (extra hollandaise, please) at Calgary’s Belmont Diner. Albertans raved about Black-owned T’oria Skincare’s life-changing vegan body butters and the Nigerian eats at Calgary’s Ahinke’s Kitchen. They loved the top-notch customer service and natural soy wax phthalate-free candles from Edmonton’s La Salle Candles and gave props to woman-led-and-run Lazy T Farm in Halkirk.
The businesses were getting the spotlight, but we rewarded their loyal customers, too. Each month, we surprised 25 people with $100 gift cards to the business they tagged in our post. Plus, in January and February, we gave a handful of lucky commenters $500 to spend at their favourite local spot, and in March we gave away gift baskets overflowing with products from women-owned businesses including Tish Jewelry, Caramunchies and 27 Boutique.
Ready to discover your new fav local business? Check out the top 20 businesses in each category, as decided by Albertans on Instagram:
Businesses cashed in, and then paid it forward.
Each month, we gave some of the top businesses a cash reward to use however they chose—to boost their business, give back to their customers, strengthen their communities and spread positivity.
Calgary’s Native Tongues paid it forward to Alberta’s healthcare workers.
Lewa Hair Signature used the money to provide eight new wigs and hair re-styling services to new and existing customers at a discounted price. Founder and head stylist Anjie had this to say:
"I appreciate the tremendous work ATB Financial is doing to support businesses in Alberta and most importantly the spotlight given to my business and other Black-owned businesses in the last month has been wonderful."
Anjie, Lewa Hair Signature
And, Edmonton LGBTQ+ retail shop The QUILTBAG used the money to give away free gender affirming items to up to 40 of their customers who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Items like these help trans, non-binary and two-spirit people on the journey to becoming their true selves by validating their gender identity and gender expression.
We shone a light on the courageous Albertans behind the businesses.
As we focused on local restaurants in January, we chatted on Facebook Live with Michael Forgie and Nate Box of Edmonton’s Fox Burger, District Cafe, June’s Delicatessen and Highlands Liquor, taking live questions and talking about the tough transition to takeout and what keeps them going.
We published an article on ways to support your favourite local restaurants, even if you’re on a tight budget at the moment.
February rolled around and in recognition of Black History Month, we turned our focus to Black-owned Alberta businesses. We kicked off by publishing Instagram Stories about five notable Black-owned businesses and their inspiring owners: Token Bitters, Ivybloom Box, The Greenhouse Health Eatery, Adoniaa Beauty and Adewunmi Skincare.
We also sat down with Jameela Ghann, co-founder of Alora Boutique and founder of she[EMPOWERS] in Calgary, and Seble Isaac, owner of Tiramisu Bistro and Lift Me Up Market in Edmonton. We talked about the importance of community in running a successful business, how it’s possible to do business while doing good, and how to support Black-owned businesses in Alberta.
Finally, we spoke with the Black-Owned Market (BOM YEG), a collective breaking down barriers for Black-owned businesses.
ATB’s Chief Economist Todd Hirsch featured Pippa and Neige Blair, founders of Routine Natural Goods, on The Future Of podcast to discuss the importance of continuous innovation and the right mix of retail and ecommerce.
"Key to success is having that physical presence as well as an online presence. Having that dual component is key so people can buy where they want it, but have that tactile experience."
Pippa Blair, Routine Natural Goods
When local businesses need us, Albertans step up.
It’s been a tough year—but it’s been an inspiring one, too, as Albertans have rallied around each other and the local businesses that need them. It’s a habit that we hope sticks. It needs to stick. In the future, and even post-pandemic, Alberta businesses will continue to need our patronage and support to maintain a thriving local business economy. And, that’s something we all benefit from.
From Medicine Hat all the way to Grande Prairie, keep a business you love in business by shopping Albertan first.
Need a little guidance on shopping locally? Here are some articles that can help.