‘Small Businesses Are a Big Deal’ initiative

The coronavirus isn’t just hurting people physically, but also putting a giant hole in their pockets.

When Governor Cuomo announced all non-essential businesses must close, many were left wondering how they will pay bills, eat and keep the lights on. While others need to know how their restaurants will stay afloat.

The organizers of Bronx Night Market, MASC Hospitality Group and in collaboration with New York City local partners recently teamed up to launch the Small Businesses Are A Big Deal initiative to get funds into the hands of small business owners, even if they’ve had to close temporarily. The program, which began March 24, has seen applications come in daily and so far more than 50 vendors have signed up.

“Hundreds of small businesses and thousands of their employees from our communities find themselves uncertain and at risk of unemployment, foreclosure, eviction and more,” said MASC Hospitality Group co-founder Marco Shalma. “The collective bonds provide a much-needed lifeline to these hard-working members of our communities and their families.” Shalma is running the initiative with his Bronx Night Market co-founder Amanda Celestino.

The goal is to connect small businesses to people even if their restaurant or store is shuttered. Some places are doing takeout or delivery and the ones that are closed are selling gift cards at a discounted rate. This initiative’s sole purpose is to help these businesses survive the COVOID-19 pandemic.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities—they are the places we frequented as children and continue to support as adults,” the organizers said in a statement. “They’re the eateries and mom-and-pop shops we visit with our friends, family, and children, making it clear that the driving force behind the initiative is to provide relief and hope for businesses in need of support.”

Small businesses fill out a form, which is vetted and verified. Once approved, the business, along with their contact information, is added to the Supportsmallbiz.org listing page and map.

The growing list of businesses includes Bronx Night Market alum vendors like Lokal Artisan Foods, Cozi Treats, Taste Buds Required, Chef Boyarnetty and many others as well.

“Think about what it would look like if these shops didn’t reopen again,” Celestino said. “We realize there is this need in our community. How can we help and not let our mission go from boilerplate to a simmer.”

While the Bronx Night Market is a huge event May through October, who knows if or when it will take place this year, Celestino said.

“As a society we need grocery stores and small mom and pop shops,” Celestino remarked. “We heard the cries of our vendors and businesses. Who knows how long they’ll go through this inoperable period that can make or break a restaurant.”

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