Presenting the winners
These impressive small businesses have been selected as the winners of the Tales of Triumph contest. Their stories are shining examples of hard work and dedication.
Ocean Sports is a family-run watersports and scuba business in Edmonton. When COVID-19 hit, they had just set up a large booth at the Edmonton Boat Show. The provincial government cracked down on gatherings and the event closed just 4 hours in. They lost the money invested in the trade show and any potential revenue to be earned. They were forced to lay off staff and close. The family doubled down and has taken Ocean Sports to new heights since the pandemic hit. They cut expenses and focused on their online store. They began marketing and advertising to all of Canada. They spent hours responding personally to customer inquiries. They fine-tuned their e-commerce store and insured inventory accuracy. They now operate with fewer staff, who have taken on new roles and connect with customers in store and online. To encourage orders across Canada, they introduced free shipping on most orders over $99.
Caribbean Flavas Restaurant & Catering began as its owner’s thesis project at the University of New Brunswick. He presented his thesis, "Can an ethnic restaurant survive in a predominantly white market” to 5 professors – it was poorly received. He lost his scholarship and student visa and was nearly deported. He asked his parents to move from Trinidad to help open the restaurant and 16 years later it is thriving. When COVID-19 hit, the business had to lay off long-time employees, their catering engagements decreased and indoor dining was restricted. To ensure their customers felt safe, they used a sticker system for takeout that captured the name of the employee who prepared the meal and his/her temperature. They also sealed each container to prevent contamination. The family tackled the need for food in their community by introducing a Buy One, Give One program. They have fed 1,000s of Fredericton's most vulnerable citizens (the homeless, essential workers, etc.) one meal per day. They teamed up with local food banks, shelters, hospitals, testing stations and schools to get the word out.
North Shore Sports Medicine is a physiotherapy clinic that enables patients to receive all the treatments they need in one location. Social responsibility is a fundamental part of their business strategy. They provide many free hours of service to dozens of teams, schools, healthcare initiatives and charities, and pro-bono and subsidized treatments for low-income patients. Their revenue fell 95% during the pandemic and they were left with only enough cash-on-hand to cover 3 months of operations. It forced them to rethink and reinvent their business. To remain open and retain their staff, they raised emergency funding and added virtual telehealth services. They streamlined their processes. To help patients adapt, they created videos on what telehealth is and how it is done. They trained practitioners to conduct telehealth visits, ensuring their team and patients were comfortable. They quadrupled their spending on social media and their website to maintain a strong connection with patients. They reopened at 85% capacity and got back to 100% of pre-COVID revenues within 2 months.
* Website only available in French