A man stands while working on a laptop. A graphic on the image says, 'Many hearts. One community.'
A man stands while working on a laptop. A graphic on the image says, 'Many hearts. One community.'
Small Business
November 27, 2020

Supporting small businesses during the holidays

Wells Fargo is encouraging everyone to shop local this holiday season and is deploying more than $50 million from its Open for Business Fund to help small businesses.

Updated Dec. 7, 2020 | This story’s slideshow has been updated with additional small businesses Wells Fargo has supported this year.

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and many have experienced significant challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Some have had to close their doors temporarily or permanently, and those who remain open are grappling with complying with new and evolving health and safety regulations, finding alternate ways to meet their customers’ needs, and retaining their employees.

“Small businesses need our support more than ever, and we’ve been inspired by the determination, resilience, and creativity so many have shown throughout 2020,” said Jenny Flores, head of small business growth philanthropy for Wells Fargo. “That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to shop local this holiday season — whether that’s making room in the menu for takeout from a neighborhood restaurant, purchasing a gift card for future use, or supporting a favorite neighborhood shop online.”

To further shine a spotlight on small businesses that need sustained support from their communities, we asked small business owners Wells Fargo has worked with this year to reflect on the season and year — and share their thoughts around community, gratitude, and perseverance.

Click the arrows to read their stories

A photo of Dionne McCray posing while holding several tote bags is next to an up close photo of a colorful tote bag.
Lindsey Braciale sits on a leather couch with a man. They look at each other while talking.
A group of five people sit on carpets outside and smile ahead. There are several silver platters and a silver container with food in front of them.
Dana Osbourne smiles while sitting next to a dog in one photo, and in another photo she wears a white jacket and black gloves with a white mask hanging beside her face while she holds a bag of dog treats in a kitchen.
A photo of Ana Valle is next to a photo of a coffee cup and saucer and bag of coffee with the Abanico Coffee Roasters logo.
Four members of the Mejorada family smile at the camera while in the restaurant. Two are standing, and two are sitting.
Valli Hilaire smiles and stands next to a shelf with stacks of paper products.
Ranjana Hans smiles as she stands behind a table in a kitchen. On the table are stacked spices. Behind her is a refrigerator and sink with kitchen utensils above it.
At left, Maria Palacio stands outside and looks down at plants. On the right, she holds a cup of coffee and smiles ahead.
Bob Hittenberger’s headshot is paired with images of the Best Glass logo and some of its products.
Ayanna Makalani sits on a table and smiles at the camera. Behind her is a mirror showing her reflection.

Dija’s Touch Designs — Maricopa, Arizona

In addition to running her business, Dija’s Touch Designs, which specializes in African print designs, this year Kadijatu Ahene has made personal protection equipment for first responders and coordinated a fundraiser to provide meals to those in need. Wells Fargo’s Open for Business grant to a collaboration between LISC and Kiva trustee International Rescue Committee was a lifeline and helped her elevate her business during hard times. “I’ve been given the opportunity to share the story of my business with the local news and work to provide a platform for other entrepreneurs to do the same as a part of the planning team for African Fest, a collaboration focused on the advancement of African culture in Arizona,” Ahene said. She said she’s been grateful to her community this year, with customers traveling over an hour to purchase masks and people from all over the world supporting her business. “Community has meant everything to me,” Ahene said. “The challenges we’re dealing with have brought us closer. Whether it’s friends and neighbors checking on me and my girls, delivering food, and more, COVID has reminded us that we’re all in this together and that we need each other to move forward in unity.”

Iva Jewell by Dionne — Oakland, California

While 2020 has created challenges for Dionne McCray’s business, Iva Jewell by Dionne in Oakland, California, it has helped her focus and ask her community of fellow small business owners for suggestions. She also received support from Working Solutions and Wells Fargo. “Prior to 2020, I took the community for granted,” McCray said. “I thought it was important to have thousands of followers. I have learned I would rather have 600 people that are supportive, positive, and engaged.” McCray created a program with brand ambassadors who promote her products, including tote bags, head wraps, face coverings, and clutches. She has also purchased products from, introduced, made referrals, and listened to other small business owners. “The community I have built has been truly amazing,” McCray said. “This has been the most successful year for Iva Jewell. We have sold more products than ever and introduced apparel at the request of our community and customers. The community showed up and supported me.”

Advocations — Charlotte, North Carolina

Lindsey Braciale, owner of Advocations in Charlotte, North Carolina, which empowers professionals with disabilities and inclusive companies across the U.S., made a promise to her team this year that she would do whatever it took to keep their jobs and Advocations afloat. While working from home has made being a small business owner more stressful, Braciale is appreciative of this time and has felt supported by her employees, the community, and Wells Fargo. “I'm so grateful to my team for staying connected to each other, our clients, and our shared purpose,” Braciale said. “While my promise was meant to convey confidence and send a signal that their jobs were safe, in reality, it was their confidence in me that made all the difference. We have used this time to adjust, streamline, and pivot from crisis to opportunity. Next year is looking bright.”

Casablanca Market — Newark, California

Katia Essyad said she didn’t know if her business, Casablanca Market in Newark, California, would dry up or have enough work to keep going this year. “Fortunately, we are surviving and looking to the future with a big smile because of the support of our community of customers that stuck with us and have continued placing orders online for their favorite Moroccan food items and cooking vessels,” Essyad said. Thanks to Working Solutions and Wells Fargo’s support, Casablanca Market has dedicated more time and effort to its customers, even creating a free recipe e-book, in addition to the recipes on its blog, knowing that many people are working from home and cooking more. Even in times when something came up, like shipping affecting inventory, her customers’ patience has been memorable. “They just would say, ‘No worries; we will just have to wait,’ and ‘Don’t worry, you will not lose our business,’ and let us know that we are in this together,” Essyad said.

Napa Dog, Napa — California

Like it did for many others, the pandemic began with Dana Osbourne losing her job as a salesperson. Within eight weeks, her mother died. Soon after, items needed for her fresh/frozen dog food company, Napa Dog in Napa, California, were suddenly in short supply. The future looked bleak, but Osbourne pivoted and manufactured a dog treat, despite her lack of baking experience. “What seemed impossible became possible with the help and support of my community,” Osbourne said. “My former boss gave me the use of her kitchen at no charge to bake my cookies. I was then able to hire some of her pastry chefs, who didn’t have much work since the pandemic began.” In addition to receiving support from Working Solutions and Wells Fargo, Osbourne was also featured in a local newspaper, a local animal rescue included her dog treats in donor gift bags, her family helped her complete her website to sell her products online, and she was featured on a podcast. “What started out to be a terribly sad, frightening year came with a silver lining,” Osbourne said. “I feel blessed and hopeful for an even better 2021.”

Abanico Coffee Roasters — San Francisco

Ana Valle had planned to open the first coffee bar for her business Abanico Coffee Roasters in San Francisco this year, but the pandemic put things on hold. After investing in equipment, permits, and space that can’t be used, the business received help from Working Solutions and Wells Fargo and was able to revamp its website. “Our small community and folks that have supported Abanico Coffee from the start have really shown their support as we wait to open our retail space and grow our online presence,” Valle said. “The support means a lot.” Abanico Coffee pays a higher price to source coffee from other women-owned farms and producers because the company wants to support other small businesses. “We are not the only ones affected by this pandemic,” Valle said. “We are all trying to help each other as we have all learned how to reinvent and sometimes recreate our own small business.”

Los 3 Pollos — Gardena, California

When nonessential businesses in Los Angeles County were shut down in March, about 60% of the customers of Los 3 Pollos in Gardena, California, lost their jobs, and many said they weren’t going to be visiting the restaurant for months. “It was even sadder when we realized it has been eight months since we last saw them,” said Efrain Mejorada Jr., who owns the restaurant’s three locations with his family. “It also feels like there is an invisible barrier between us and our everyday customers. We can no longer smile or shake hands. It is sad, but we are fortunate to be able to keep our doors open.” The Mejorada family has been grateful for its loyal customers, especially around Thanksgiving. “It was really special to know that those customers knew we would be waiting for them whenever they would be able to find their way back,” Mejorada said. “We missed them as much as they missed us.”

Write That Down — Concord, California

Valli Hilaire’s stationery and gift shop, Write That Down in Walnut Creek, California, had been open for just three months before having to temporarily close in March for California’s shelter-in-place order. Hilaire permanently closed the location in May, but she’s been running the business from her home in Concord and, thanks to support from Working Solutions and Wells Fargo, has pivoted to an increased online presence. Hilaire has stayed connected with her customers through the shop’s mailing list, social media, and giveaways with local businesses. “Seeing customers return to the website to shop throughout this year and now for the holidays gives me so much hope that I'll be able to reopen the brick-and-mortar version of Write That Down next year,” Hilaire said. “It is so heartening to feel the support, love, and belief from complete strangers who loved what I created and want to see it continue on. I've seen them do things as simple as share social media posts and buy gifts for friends, who then turn around and buy things from the shop because they loved what they received. It truly means the world to know that, as an entrepreneur, I'm on the right path with my vision for Write That Down and that people in my community see its value.”

Raw Roots Turmeric — Columbia, Missouri

As another entrepreneur that benefited from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, Ranjana Hans has been growing her business, Raw Roots Turmeric, in Columbia, Missouri, by relying on customers sampling her products at grocery stores, which became a challenge during the pandemic. She pivoted and set up at her local outdoor farmers market, and her community has supported her by coming out and promoting her products on social media. “I have always felt that having strong connections in the community enriched my life, and over the course of the current year, that has become even more evident,” Hans said. “I think the main difference in 2020 is that entrepreneurs in Columbia have embraced each other more than ever. There has always been the ‘shop local’ mentality here, but the pandemic has brought the entrepreneurial community closer than ever.”

Progeny Coffee LLC — Palo Alto, California

Maria Palacio started Progeny Coffee LLC in Palo Alto, California, to bring Colombian coffee farmers out of poverty, and during the pandemic, the company launched the coffee La Esperanza, which means “hope.” For every purchase, the company donated one bag of groceries to a family in need. “It was incredibly moving to see how our customers and community came together to donate and buy coffee to support our community,” Palacio said. “Out of this initiative, we were able to impact more than 200 families that were left without a job or government help in Colombia.” When the pandemic began, Palacio said she was confused and unsure of the next steps to take for her business, which suffered a loss of 97% in sales in one day. Palacio, who also received support from Wells Fargo and Working Solutions, reached out to community groups and other CEOs, one of whom offered her services for free and helped Progeny Coffee LLC pivot to online sales. “One thing that we learned during 2020 is the power and importance of community,” Palacio said. “We learned that if we stick together, we are stronger, and we can conquer any challenge. I am sure that we are still standing thanks to all of our peers.”

Best Glass, Inc. — Phoenix

In the beginning of the pandemic, Bob Hittenberger, owner of Best Glass, Inc., in Phoenix, said his business felt very vulnerable, with the uncertainty and initial drop in business. Fortunately, Best Glass, Inc., was able to secure a PPP loan from Wells Fargo. “Those funds not only helped us keep all our employees early on, it also helped us hire additional employees as business started to turn around,” Hittenberger said. “We feel incredibly grateful to be able to not only survive but grow during these very difficult times. We owe it all to our loyal customers, insurance agents, contractors, homeowners, and builders.” The company, which provides commercial, residential, and automotive glass, has made an extra effort to be sensitive to its customers concerns about COVID-19 when communicating with them, handling their glass needs, and sanitizing every point of contact. As a way to give back to the community, Best Glass, Inc., has helped with charities that have felt overwhelmed. “In light of this pandemic, community means that we’re all in this together, and everyone is doing whatever is necessary for the good of us all,” Hittenberger said. “As an essential business, it meant we had to provide services to our customers while keeping their health and safety foremost.”

HEAL: Pilates — Albany, California

While this year has made Ayanna Makalani, owner of HEAL: Pilates in Albany, California, feel lonely and scared, she said she has never felt more connected to her clientele, staff, and family for support and encouragement. “I know for a fact that my business would not have survived our mandated shutdown if I did not have such a close-knit, committed, and talented team of instructors,” Makalani said. “At moments where I’ve felt discouraged and frightened, they’ve called me a ‘fearless leader,’ came up with creative ideas for virtual classes and workshops, and remained committed to HEAL: Pilates.” Despite the business’s financial need, HEAL: Pilates held fundraisers for Black Lives Matter and the Safe Return Project this year. HEAL: Pilates has also reconnected with clients who have moved away and are taking virtual classes and workshops, and the business has been able to increase its staff, thanks to support from Working Solutions and Wells Fargo. “This year has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and connect with those I know — and also want to know — as I have collaborated with other female small business owners and organizations,” Makalani said. “COVID has brought challenges, but also resilience and hope. I’m proud of the work my studio is doing for our clients, families, and community.”

You Go Natural — Dallas

Before this year, Monique Little said her business decisions essentially had to do with making a profit for You Go Natural in Dallas. But when the COVID-19 pandemic began, Little used some of the remnant fabric from her products to make masks to donate to the community, hiring seamstresses in need of work to help with the effort from their homes. “This year has really highlighted how much our actions as business owners affect lives in our communities, and we have a responsibility to add value and give back whenever possible,” Little said. At first, Little said she didn’t have access to new materials, but her customers were excited about the masks and continued to support her business. “Once I decided I would make the best of a difficult situation, so many people from the community stood in support,” Little said. “The best thing we have all done is give one another grace during times of so much uncertainty.”

Empanada Club — Portland, Maine

For Adrian Espinoza Garcia, community means making sure your family is healthy and safe. “This year brought awareness to our loved ones, for their safety and health,” Garcia said. “The same awareness brought support in our business, in the farmers markets, pickup orders, etc.” Since Garcia started his business Empanada Club three years ago with support from Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program, he has primarily sold his empanadas and salsas at a farmers market and festivals. He had planned to sell the products at concerts and festivals this year, but with many being canceled, the farmers market has been the best outlet. “I’ve been getting a lot of emails and orders consistently from customers looking for my products and coming to the kitchen for pickup all this year,” Garcia said. “That’s been a big help for us to look forward and have hope.”

Grown Ups — Bayamón, Puerto Rico

Grown Ups in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, specializes in recreation and wellness programs for older adults and has a history of taking care of its community in difficult times. After Hurricane Maria devastated the area in 2017, Grown Ups joined other organizations to bring supplies to those most affected, cook for others, and clean up the community, said co-owner Heriberto Santiago-García, who benefited from funding from Wells Fargo grantee Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). “With the pandemic, it’s been a bit harder,” he added. “We can’t do many of those things because is not safe to get together physically, particularly for the older adults, who are the population we serve and one of the most vulnerable to COVID.” To maintain contact with its community, Grown Ups has offered recreational and educational activities through its social media networks. “We learn to adapt and laugh together from time to time,” Santiago-García said. “We talk a bit about everything, share a recipe once in a while, play trivia games, have musical activities, and interact with the community to make social distancing a more bearable process.”

Wildflower Remedy — Menlo Park, California

Grace Wathen, owner and founder of Wildflower Remedy, a small business that sells organic herbal teas made from medicinal flowers, said her clients have had her back this year. She said they’ve not only promoted her business to their friends and family, they’ve also made extra orders, offered to help pay her rent, and offered to help process orders. One client sent her money for the first five weeks of the shutdown, and another helped her paint her office. “When my clients stepped up to help, I was super emotional — happy tears were shed,” Wathen said. “I feel so grateful to have a community around me that cares. Otherwise, I wouldn't have made it.” Wathen’s small business was also supported in 2020 by a COVID-19 relief grant made by Wells Fargo to Working Solutions, a San Francisco-based Community Development Financial Institution. 

A commitment to help

A baker wears a face covering while working.

In addition, this holiday season, $50 million from the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund will be deployed to nonprofit Community Development Financial Institutions across 32 states to help the small businesses they serve. The Open for Business Fund was created to reinvest about $400 million in gross processing fees the bank would have received from the federal government for lending through the Paycheck Protection Program — a government stimulus program providing small businesses with short-term cash flow assistance — to further help entrepreneurs recover and rebuild.

Wells Fargo funded loans under the Paycheck Protection Program for approximately 194,000 small business customers, totaling $10.5 billion. The company rolled all gross processing fees it would have received from these loans and created the Open for Business Fund, which supports nonprofit Community Development Financial Institutions that provide needed capital, technical support, and long-term resiliency programs for small businesses. Additional awards will continue to be announced through 2021.

A yellow heart icon against a red background.
Yellow horizontal line

Many hearts. One community.

This holiday season, Wells Fargo is saluting those who have been working tirelessly for their communities during the pandemic. We’re proud to:

  • Extend our relationship with Feeding America member food banks to help combat the sharp rise in food insecurity and ensure families have holiday meals on the table. By year-end, Wells Fargo will have helped provide 82 million meals* to families in need in 2020. Wells Fargo will also contribute $250,000 to nonprofits feeding families in need in countries across the company’s global footprint.
  • Raise up to $1 million for the American Red Cross by encouraging everyone to shower frontline workers and military personnel with gratitude. For each digital holiday note of thanks with the hashtag #WFGivesThanks**, Wells Fargo will donate $5. We will also bring joy to military families by helping them reunite for the holidays.
  • Help small businesses hardest hit this year by deploying approximately $50 million of the Wells Fargo Open For Business Fund to nonprofits that help them to stay open, and use social media and other marketing platforms to encourage people to “shop local” and shine a light on these vital businesses.
A series of images show a member of the military, a close-up of two people holding hands, and a man standing while working on a laptop. A graphic on the image says, 'Many hearts. One community.'

‘Many hearts. One community.’ | This holiday season, Wells Fargo is supporting the American Red Cross and reuniting military families, providing millions of meals by teaming up with Feeding America, and shining a light on small businesses.

* 82 million meals calculation is based on 1) Actual number of meals distributed through Wells Fargo Drive-Up Food Bank events and 2) Wells Fargo’s financial contributions to support Feeding America food banks 7/20/20-12/31/20. $1 helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks.

** From 11/23/20 to 12/27/20, for every Wells Fargo card retweeted or shared on Twitter In-Feed, Instagram In-Feed, and/or Facebook In-Feed that includes the #WFGivesThanks hashtag, Wells Fargo will donate $5 to American Red Cross. (Maximum donation of $1,000,000; Wells Fargo is also guaranteeing a minimum donation of $500,000.)  Social media user’s profile must be set to public in order for # share to count.