City Councilor At-Large and mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George has embarked on a “Get Boston Back to Business” tour, where she visits local businesses across the city to chat with owners about recovery efforts and what kind of support they’re looking for following the COVID-19 pandemic.
¡°Since the beginning of this tour, I¡¯ve heard directly from our city¡¯s small businesses about the real challenges they¡¯ve faced before and during this crisis,¡± Essaibi George said in a statement. ¡°Of course we¡¯re talking about recovery, but we¡¯re taking it a step further and really getting at the root issue of redesigning our economy to work for everyone. I look forward to continuing these important conversations with small businesses and employees in every single neighborhood of Boston.¡±
Essaibi George visited Jamaica Plain on March 5, where she made stops at Monumental Market, Polkadog Bakery, Cad Dia Nutrition, and Blue Frog Bakery, and spoke with employees and owners about challenges they have faced and how they have overcome them. She also made purchases at each business as a way of showing her support.
Kelsey Munger, co-owner and head baker at Monumental Market, and Javier Amador-Pena, who owns El Colombiano Coffee, which is sold at the shop as well, told Essaibi George about their experience with securing funds to keep their business open, including getting a grant from the city for personal protection equipment for their employees.
“It’s been so nice having the support of the community because they really want to support small businesses,” Munger said. “It was a struggle to get there, but we’re surviving.”
Nicole Gunn was able to open Cada Dia on Burroughs St. during the pandemic a few months ago, and said she hopes to plan a grand opening celebration within the next few months. Gunn said that Cada Dia means “every day,” and the shop offers a wide variety of different flavors of nutritional teas and shakes. Essaibi George tried a hot “Simplici-Tea,” as well as a pistachio shake. Essaibi George told Gunn about options that are available for getting more signage on the building so people can better see her business from the street, as that is something Gunn said she is still working on as the owner of a recently opened business.
Brad Brown, owner of the Blue Frog Bakery on Green Street, said that the “local main streets organizations are really doing a lot” to help out small businesses.
He said that more affordable commercial spaces are needed in the neighborhood and that more support from the city for small business owners and those looking to open a business is necessary.
“It was hard enough for me as a 37-year -old white dude to open a place,” he said. “I can’t imagine how hard it is for a person of color.”
He and Essaibi George also discussed exploring building ownership for small business owners as a way to help them become more independent.
Aside from her duties as City Councilor and running her mayoral campaign, Essaibi George is also a small business owner. Her yarn shop, Stitch House, is located in Dorchester, where she also lives with her husband and four sons. Essaibi George is also a former Fields Corner Main Streets Director.
The councilor has added more locations to her tour, including Downtown, Back Bay, and Fenway on March 18. So far, aside from the South End, she has visited local businesses in Dorchester, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Chinatown, Jamaica Plain, Allston, and Brighton.