Everyone knows that local business has been hit pretty hard these past couple of months. With most of our local businesses closed, they’ve had to adapt quickly. While the road has not been easy, we caught up with a few local owners to check on how they’ve been doing, what they’ve had to change, and how they view the road ahead.
Tell me what this has done to your business?
Veronica – Obviously Salvador Dobbs is closed completely. At Little Gretel, it has altered our restaurant life – we became a grocery store/delivery service. Here I am as a restaurant owner and I want people here to provide them an experience, a presentation that is on par with how we provide our service. We want you here laughing and enjoying yourself and I don’t have that right now. We’re just sort of functioning alone with nobody inside, delivering food as an essential good and not an experience anymore. So it’s a complete change in our business model.
Reagan – It has significantly killed our business. We had a few online sales per week prior to all this, so by closing the store it shut us down completely revenue wise. It caused me to get real creative with what I’m doing – I’ve been doing live videos on FB, and it’s been successful actually. I’ve also found other ways to reach customers via email and texting and that has done well for us also.
Shelly – Luckily I haven’t slowed down at all. More than anything we’ve just had to focus more on keeping people safe on the job sites. I’ve had a lot more calls on remodels as people are wanting to work on projects that they’ve been putting off for a while. I’ve had some people putting some larger projects on hold temporarily until things calm down and they’ve also been concerned with safety.
Kim – It’s a mix. At first it was a shock. A lot of businesses reached out and I think we’ve worked harder than ever. It’s been in a healthy way. I told my team when it started that this is our time to shine. We advocate, educate, and connect. And if there’s ever a time for us to connect, it’s now. We’ve stayed strong and healthy with our business members as they’ve continued to invest in us. We’ve set up payment plans to help, and it’s worked out great for us. It’s a cool feeling to see these people come out of the wood work and offer to help. We sent a bunch of food to the HEB workers from Hungry Horse just so they could have food while they worked. The manager of HEB then turned around and bought food for the senior citizens. That is how things should work, and I’ve been proud to see that happen.
How has the community supported you?
Veronica – The community has reached out and they’ve come to our restaurant, pulled up to the curb, enjoying our grocery packs and our dinner packs to prepare for their family, they are sending us inspirational messages online…they tell us how much they’ve appreciated enjoying good food home with their families…and we’ve loved getting that. I think the community has been so supportive of what we’ve had to do, and they’ve been very patient with us and understanding that our entire menu isn’t available. They’ve worked with us and been very giving. My wait staff has been able to come to work because they get tips from the curbside. So it’s been wonderful to have that.
Reagan – I had a person reach out to me that wanted to create a BoerneStrong t-shirt and offer it to the retailers at her cost so that we could make some sort of money which I found incredible. It’s had a huge response. People should know that we are then donating $10 back of every t-shirt to the KCWS. It’s been a huge increase in online sales up to probably 300 or so packages per week so that’s helped us so much.
Shelly – The community has been great about trying to keep things local. There are a lot of people that are really serious about trying to keep things local and supporting us local builders and contractors and I’ve been so appreciative of that. I know people have a lot of options, and all of us appreciate when people choose to work with someone that lives in their community, knowing that it is helping all of us prosper
Kim – They continue to invest in membership, and they just care. They call us and email us just to check in. I can’t tell you how good that feels when you’re having a really hard day and somebody just calls to ask “How are you doing?” They’re also helping us by helping us get the message out. That’s huge.
What do you predict for your business as things re-open?
Veronica – I think it’s going to be rougher than expected. We’re going to struggle with people being willing to get out into the public and feeling safe. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure things are sanitary, but people have been scared. From the dishwasher to the hostess to our chefs, they’re all ServSafe certified and I think people are excited to get out, but will be nervous. People are scared of each other, and I want them happy again…so I hope to see that happen again soon.
Reagan – I think we’ve got customers that are dying to get out and they’re going to be all over the place. Those people that aren’t going to come out – part of my fear is that people will be shamed or ridiculed for going out. We were never a place where there would be more than 4 or 5 people here at a time anyway, but yes, people that might be scared will stay home. But, we’re going to be re-opening soon and will be welcoming of everyone and we’re very excited for that day.
Shelly – I think it’s going to be crazy busy. I think that when things re-open those larger projects are going to restart and it’s going to be great. I think that the deals are going to have great rates for some of our financed jobs and that is going to feed a lot of the demand. I’ve had several clients that have identified what they want to do but they want to wait until things calm down. I think they’re going to be ready to go come summer and, hopefully, I predict a great summer and fall season for us.
Kim – It’s certainly going to be different. We’re going to have to get creative. We’ll still networking, but it might look different. We’re used to have 350 people show up for our mixers, and I don’t think we’re going to have that for a while. So whether we come up with a digital engagement or video conferences…I’m not sure. But things will definitely be different for a while.
Anything you’d like to say to the community at large?
Veronica – Thank you so much for the reviews and feedback over the course of this. The honking at Walter waving the American flag out front has just been so heart-warming. People don’t even know who he is, but they appreciate the positivity. Thank you for just keeping our spirits up. This has been beyond hard.
Reagan – We’re from here and we’re going to be here even if people just want to stop in and say hello. We have missed seeing our customers so much and we are so excited to be able to see everybody. We’re going to have tons of new stuff, we’ll meet you on the porch if that’s how you want to shop, but we can’t wait to see everybody once again.
Shelly – I think that our community has done an awesome job on supporting everyone to help local small business stay open. Even on social media, people have been supportive and worked tirelessly to just keep things positive and it really does help. I know this has been hard for everyone, and just the inspiring messages help get each of us through our days.
Kim – Thank you. That’s really all I can say. I feel honored and humbled honestly. That comes from my true heart. It’s such a good feeling to feel appreciated during hardships. It’s hard for people to stay positive, but they dig deep and pass those messages along to us and are encouraging us, and we’re forever grateful for that.