Small businesses after COVID-19

Robin Bradshaw
The Blue Moon Vintage is a newly owned and operated Antique Shop on 10118 Leopard Street. Owner Kim Black shares her story on business and the pandemic.

As the economy reopens all businesses are adapting to a new normal of living and operating amidst a global pandemic. It is no surprise that the sales tax revenue in local cities are in drastic decline and other than H-E-B- and the essential retails; big business to small businesses are adjusting to a multitude of changes and financial challenges.

National clothing and clothing accessories stores have faced a 89.3 percent decrease in sales from the previous year, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau. The pandemic has closed down big retailers like J.C. Penny's, Pier 1 Imports, Gap, to name a few. This is putting local small retailers in danger of closing with dramatic drops in sales traffic.

Kimberly Black is a young business owner that recently opened Blue Moon Vintage, a resale shop in Calallen, a year ago. Her business closed on March 16 and plans to re-open June 2.

"As a business owner, I am currently taking things day by day. I applied for economic relief from the Small Business Administration on April 1, and recently received information on the terms of my loan to be able re-open and get back to business," said Black. "My landlord gave me a break on rent during the last few months which was the game changer, without that support I would have lost the business."

Blue Moon Vintage will be adjusting their hours of operation to support overhead and will provide masks and gloves to enter the store, but will not allow customers to enter without the precautionary measures.

"There is so many unknown and one of my biggest fears is now that the economy is open people think the threat is over and it is not. I am a wife and a mother and I have employees that I want to keep everyone safe including customers and I am not wavering from that policy as a business owner for everyone’s health," said Black.

Local retail stores and small businesses' are adjusting to their own unique circumstances and financial positioning to weather the economic challenges and safety concerns.

Josefa Cantu, an Alice native known in the community as "Josie" owns Alice Floral and Gift in the downtown Alice district. Her story is unique because she has two avenues of business at her gift shop. A retail boutique and a flower shop specializing in handmade floral arraignments. Her business is well established from generations past; her grandmother and mother opened the very first flower shop in Alice and has deep family roots in the area.

"Boutique sales are down 90 percent and the floral arraignments are supporting the shop. We closed during the Mayor's Stay at Home order and opened the first of May," said Cantu. "We have faced challenges in vendors in purchasing shortages for fresh flower and certain variations due to state traveling restrictions and farm closures in California. Since the reopening of more local businesses we have seen an increase in sales and was surprised on the number of Mother's Day calls in floral sales."

"I think with the local nursing home visit restrictions and extended family members staying home (we have had) an overwhelming amount of calls for loved ones to send a gesture especially on Mother's Day. The gift shop has little to no foot traffic at the moment and I require a masks to enter the shop and all floral deliveries are contactless. We have to all stay safe," said Cantu.

Both business owners are in the beginning stages of navigating their new normal amidst the pandemic and the variety of public health concerns and economic down turns that it entails. Both women shared the same sentiment when asked about financial forecasts and expressed the obvious in increasing online exposure for sells and facing the circumstances by staying safe and opening up for business “one day at a time.”

Josie Cantu from Alice Flowers and Gifts