July 17, 2020
It’s the small pleasures in life that put a smile on our faces: having a chat with the owner of our favourite restaurant - and then taking that first delicious sip of a mango smoothie - enjoying a quick browse in the clothing store down the road, getting our hair done by a talented stylist (and not our flatmate)...
‘So Good To See You Again’: The Joy Of Reunions On Your Local High Street
These visits to neighbourhood small businesses used to be part of our daily routines, and naturally, we could not be more excited for them to reopen again after being shuttered for several weeks. 
In fact, 43% of Brits said they hoped to visit their local hair salon or barbers in the week of reopening and 38% said they planned on going to a local restaurant, according to Small Business Recovery research from American Express. [i]
The relationships we have with our local small business owners are hardly just transactional; there are many we’ve known for years and years, consider our Friends and some even know our most intimate secrets (yes, we’re talking about our hairdresser. Yours too?). We’ve been looking forward to these reunions with our local business friends with as much enthusiasm as we’ve had for seeing friends and family we’ve been separated from for months.
American Express has captured this emotional moment in history – that first post-lockdown meet-up with a favourite hairdresser, restaurateur and clothing store owner and the customers who have missed them dearly - in a new video and photography series, Reunion, [ii] directed by acclaimed London-based photographer and filmmaker, Lewis Khan.
Reunion celebrates the stories behind the owners of small businesses, whose doors are now open again post-lockdown. Lewis also explores the deeper relationships and bonds between these business owners and their clients, and the happy friendships that have formed, which help the local community thrive as well as giving a boost to the economy.
It features a soundtrack by Kyan - an emerging artist who American Express has supported since he was chosen to receive mentoring as part of its Backed By initiative in 2018. 
Kyan uses the universal sound of people and communities in harmony - a sound of solidarity we’ve all heard and made these past few months - as the base of his beat: the clap.
Check out the heartfelt joy of the first reunion between the small business owners and their customers at Samantha Cusick London, Universal Works and En Root in American Express’ Reunion film below.Small businesses have really shown their resilience throughout the lockdown period, with many rallying together on Social Media to support other small businesses, as well as diversifying their business models, like a restaurant delivering fruit and veg boxes in lockdown. South London-based Indian restaurant En Root, owned by Nish Modasia and his cousin, Harshil, is one example of a business that’s done the above, as well as delivering food to devoted customers during the pandemic using a “meals on wheels” food truck service. 
“En Root is a South London born company, so it’s been hard to not accommodate people in an area which we feel is like home. It’s going to be really exciting to be open and at ease with customers.
“We’ve had to change a lot of things, it’s actually provided the opportunity to expand on other parts of the business that we haven’t had the time to do so in the past,” Nish and Harshil say in Reunion.
 “After being closed for months during lockdown, I’m relishing the opportunity to finally be reunited with my regular customers. We’re more than just a service to them and they are much more than just customers to us – we’ve developed really close connections with our regular clients over the years so not seeing them and having our regular catch ups has been tough,” says Samantha Cusick, owner of the Samantha Cusick London salon in Notting Hill, which also features in Reunion.
All through lockdown, she’s been keeping in touch with her clients on social media, but it doesn’t replace the relationship she has with her loyal customers. 
“It’s these connections that really make small independent businesses stand out and thrive, and given the difficult few months we’ve been through, it’s more important now than ever that people support businesses like ours,” says Samantha.The third and final business to feature in Reunion is Universal Works, a men’s clothing shop which combines modern silhouettes with old-school construction (the Baker jacket is a wardrobe staple for dapper shopper, Daniel Bolarinwa).
 “Over the years I’ve kind of built a relationship with the people that work in the store. Coming back into the store is like a new breath of fresh air instead of going online,” he says.
Universal Works co-founder and designer, David Keyte, thrives on the relationships he’s established over the years with customers like Daniel - it’s one of his favourite parts of the Job.“I get such a personal kick out of meeting and talking to the customers, it’s a massive part of what we are and who we are,” David says in the video.
While we’re all looking forward to heading back to the shops, the safety of staff and customers is paramount. Small business owners and clients alike are adhering to new government guidelines around maintaining social distancing (stores are also limited to allowing only a few customers in at a time).
Instead of dampening the experience, reopening with these new measures in place illustrates how adaptable and resilient small business owners - and the rest of us - can be, as we live through this moment in history. Lockdown has reminded us of the importance of lending a hand to friends and strangers alike, as well as supporting the local community. The role these small shops play in knitting the fabric of the neighbourhood together and providing a social outlet is invaluable.The American Express ® Shop Small Offer aims to help small businesses on their road to recovery – and incentivises us shoppers to help out!
Launched on 22 June and running until 13 September, Cardmembers can receive £5 back when they spend at least £10 in-store or more in a single in-store transaction at up to 10 different participating small businesses. This means up to £50 back! So, now’s the time to support your local small businesses by shopping small and shopping often. For more information on how you can get involved, click here.American Express Services Europe Limited. Registered Office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. Registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139.
Offer T&Cs: The offer is valid for use up to 10 times, once per Card and per participating location, up to a total of £50 in statement credits. It is available for 12 weeks from 22 June 2020 until 13 September 2020. The offer is available to consumer and small business Cardmembers. Terms and conditions apply. Participating small businesses and full terms and conditions can be found at https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/network/amex-offers-terms.html 
 
[1] American Express Small Business Recovery research conducted amongst 1,502 UK adults by Morning Consult between 28 May and 1 June 2020.[2] Reunion was created in early July, with health and safety measures in place to ensure shoots were compliant with all government guidelines around COVID-19 at the time of filming.
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