Bert Show lends big hand to small businesses

Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment.  PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

The Bert Show is lending a big hand to small businesses. Known for its “Real. Funny.” tagline, the popular radio show is also known for giving back and supporting various causes, like host Bert Weiss’ eponymous nonprofit, Bert’s Big Adventure, benefiting medically fragile children, and the “Big Thank You,” where the show gathers and mails letters of thanks to the troops. Their newest effort is “Save My Small Business,” an idea hatched by Weiss to give free on-air commercials to small businesses that have struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I look for content on the internet every day and every day there’s another story about another small business being hit,” said Weiss. “Many of these small businesses have earned half or less of their pre-COVID revenue and it’s been a real struggle.”

According to an August 2020 U.S. Census Bureau Small Pulse Survey, nearly 79% of small businesses have felt a moderate-to-large negative effect from the pandemic.

The Bert Show, syndicated in multiple states, launched the “Save My Small Business” initiative in mid-February. Small businesses from all over the U.S. call in with hopes of getting a free commercial, which would typically cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to be played multiple times throughout the day. One small business is promoted each weekday morning.

“When you have the ability to touch people with a radio signal, I believe we have a responsibility to not only entertain but help when we can,” said Weiss. “Our listeners give us so much and it’s our philosophy to give back to the people who give to you.”

When Heaven Waits, of Buford, left her message on the “Save My Small Business” line, she assumed there was no way she would be selected.

“I wrote down everything I wanted to say, rehearsed it, and still got emotional when I left my message,” said Waits, 30. “I’m just a one-person, itty bitty business in Buford and was so shocked when they called me back.”

Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment. Her business was helped by The Bert Show’s “Save my small business” promotion, which gives free ads to small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic.  PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment. Her business was helped by The Bert Show’s “Save my small business” promotion, which gives free ads to small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Waits began her business, Heavenly Bakes, specializing in cakes, cookies and cake pops, two years ago. She projected to double her business in 2020 and hoped to buy her first house in 2021. Then the pandemic hit.

“Every day I was getting calls from clients who had to cancel orders because their events were being canceled, or their budgets were changing. It was so stressful and scary,” said Waits. “When I heard about “Save My Small Business” on The Bert Show, it was motivating. I had handed out maybe 200 business cards at the mall one day. Now I had the opportunity to share my business with thousands of listeners at once. It was such a gift. I have received multiple calls since my commercial aired. I’m so appreciative and even more motivated to keep chasing this dream.”

Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment. Her business was helped by The Bert Show’s “Save my small business” promotion, which gives free ads to small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic.  PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment. Her business was helped by The Bert Show’s “Save my small business” promotion, which gives free ads to small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Peggy and Donna Cannella, owners of Countryside Antiques & Home Décor, in Braselton, and The Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival, have also seen an influx of business since their commercial aired on The Bert Show.

“We had a woman drive all the way from Loganville one afternoon, just because she’d heard about us on the show,” said Donna Cannella. “Just that one person made me so happy.”

The Cannellas closed their business from late March until early May 2020 because of quarantine, and then had to relocate for five months due to a foundation rebuild needed on their building. By the time they returned to their original location on Dec. 1, they had earned just 40% of their normal revenue and lost five of their antique dealers.

“Since the commercial aired, we have seen unbelievable spikes on our website,” said Donna Cannella. “We are completely grateful for the exposure we’ve gained. I have the mindset that nothing is free, and I was just so shocked that The Bert Show gifted us that ad, which I know would normally be very expensive, and then kept playing it. I’m so thankful people care. The show’s producer has even followed up to see if the ad has made a difference. They’re really invested, they’re such a good-hearted group, and I think it’s beautiful how they’re choosing to pay it forward.”

David and Odalys Hart, of Stockbridge, owners of Family Martial Arts, agree.

“The time they’re allowing for small businesses to promote themselves on-air is invaluable,” said David.

The Harts run two schools, in Sandy Springs and Kennesaw, and were closed from March to June 2020 due to the pandemic. They began offering online classes, but enrollment was low. Since sharing their business on The Bert Show, they have seen an increase in both in-person and online enrollments.

“We are so grateful for each and every enrollment,” said David Hart. “One by one, it all makes a difference.”

Weiss views “Save My Small business” the same way.

“With situations as big as this, many people don’t do anything because the problem seems too big,” said Weiss. “Our approach is to help one business at a time, with the hope of a ripple effect that will spread to their employees, their families, and so on. You can’t save everyone, but why not help as many as you can?”

Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment. Her business was helped by The Bert Show’s “Save my small business” promotion, which gives free ads to small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic.  PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Heaven Waits of Heavenly Bakes works in the kitchen of her Buford apartment. Her business was helped by The Bert Show’s “Save my small business” promotion, which gives free ads to small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

MORE DETAILS

Heavenly Bakes. www.heavenlybakes.com; 678-654-2358

Countryside Antiques & Home Décor and The Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival. www.vintagemarkets.net; 706-824-7204

Family Martial Arts. www.karateclassesathome.com; 404-256-4400

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