Covid-19 anxiety and crowds return during pandemic resurgence

By C.J. Vetter

With Covid-19 continuing to spread despite the introduction of vaccines, there is a growing concern about people returning to their local businesses, shops and stores. While there is no end currently in sight, some companies and groups are starting to express worry about what the ramifications of both the possibility of growing crowds and reluctance to shop.

Anxiety returns about Covid-19 as holiday season returns

By C.J. Vetter

As the Holiday season rolls back in, more and more retailers are opening their stores later, and to bigger crowds. Between Black Friday and Christmas, stores are set to see resurgent sales following those from last year.

This has made some employees nervous returning back to work; however, some such as Travis Johnson, an Human Resources assistant aren’t worried.

“As far as being comfortable with people coming back out and shopping, and just in general, I definitely feel like I am personally uncomfortable, or I am comfortable because, I mean, we are required to wear masks, and I can maintain personal distance in the store.”

Others, such as Brandy Shelton, a checkout advocate at Target, are somewhat overwhelmed by the new wave of people, and are worried about the rise in covid cases.

“I guess with this new strain, that’s kind of worrisome, just because I’ve heard it’s pretty bad. But as far as I know, there’s no cases here. But that might change, so that’s a little worrisome. But, as of right now though, I feel pretty good about everything.”

With no signs of Covid-19 leaving, nor any signs of people staying home, only time will show the results of store’s decisions.

This is C.J. Vetter with Texas State Multimedia Journalism, MC338

Anxiety returns about Covid-19 as holiday season returns

By C.J. Vetter

While the Covid-19 pandemic continues, one of the most hardest hit local businesses, game shops, are beginning to adapt. One Store Owner, Billy Waltserdorff, is finding that many people are reluctant to return.

“I’m Billy with Blitzkrieg games and comics, I’m the owner of the good business. And on the business of people coming back to the store, it’s been pretty much a varied experience dependent on the spectrum of the game and how it went.”

Another store, Hole in the wall Hobbies, has found an alternative way to satisfy their costumers while making a profit. Through online selling, store owner Thomas Colben has been making more money than ever.

“Hey there guys, my name is Tom, and I am the owner of Hole in the Wall Hobbies here in Schertz Texas, and I’ve been doing this 15 years on eBay, and three years in a brick-and-mortar store. While keeping the eBay business going, Covid has actually been great for business, especially in a hobby business, where your hobby will take hours and hours, its you and two other people your comfortable with, it was very nice to see a huge growth in the online business.”

This is C.J. Vetter with Texas State Multimedia journalism, MC3383

Pictures from the Pandemic

By C.J. Vetter

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Texans were unable to, or didn’t feel comfortable, leaving their homes. With the pandemic still ongoing, albeit lessened with the introduction of vaccines, many Texas are still hesitant to return to their former public spaces.

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At the Planet Fitness in New Braunfels, crowds have been reluctant to return. While still busy on weekends, weekdays are still not up to pre-pandemic levels of crowds.

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At Texas State, some organizations are finally hosting public events. The Comedy Assocation recently put on their first performance since Covid-19 on Oct. 30th.

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Smaller, locally run shops have been the hardest hit by Covid-19 and are the most hopeful that people will return. Blitzkrieg Games & Comics is a local game shop own and ran by Billy Waltserdorff Jr.

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“It’s been difficult with how my vendors want me to run things.” Waltserdorff said. “While some people are returning, I can’t really run the events like I used to due to restrictions put in place by the companies themselves.”

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While some businesses are suffering, others continue to see limited success. Both EVO and Santiko’s theater-restaurant chains have continued operations. Santiko’s has even gone on to open a new location within New Braunfels.

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Other retailers have abandoned trying to cater to their prior clientele and have switched their operations entirely. Thomas Colben is a game shop and memorabilia seller, and own’s Hole In The Wall Hobbies.

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“Almost all of my profits come from selling online and through Ebay now.” Colben said. “While having a store is great and all, I can’t really fit people in my store comfortably. Between people wanting their space, and having too much product, nobody can really paly games in here.”

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Fiesta Lanes, a local bowling alley, has steadily seen it’s number of patrons return. Between new leagues starting, and schools across Texas reopening their bowling teams, more people have been hitting the lanes. It also helps that the space between one lane, and another, gives people more room.

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Holiday shoppers in general, haven’t been deterred by the possibility of crowds. Numerous stores still have lines waiting in the morning for the doors to open, although, some have offered later hours in hopes that more come later.

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Comedy association returns amidst Covid-19

By C.J. Vetter

On Saturday night, Oct. 30th, the student ran Texas State Comedy Association invited the student body out for a night of laughter at the Lindon B. Johnson Student Center. Promising improv, sketch and stand-up comedy scenes as well free pop-corn, the Association brought in a crowd on the eve of Halloween at it’s venue within LBJ, Georgie’s.

As guests walked into the bar and hang-out, they were offered to write down a phrase or sentence on a piece of paper; with the possibility of later being used on stage as a piece of the improv comedy. They ranged anywhere from ‘the biggest candle shop in the world’ to the more nonsensical ‘I’m five years old and what is sex?’

Other acts included an improv skit based around a murder mystery involving ‘eagle scouts’ and a ‘kissing badge’, a routine involving the cremated ashes of a family pet and dominos, the three blind fates, and a touching moment between Frankenstein and his monster amongst others. To tie all these reoccurring moments together, an underlying story of another murder mystery unravels, as a member of the association is found dead, resurrected as a ghost, and then invited to perform on stage and point out their own murderer, in a suitably spooky homage to Halloween. This was more than just a ghoulish night of humor though; this marked the Comedy Association’s first live performance since the beginning of the pandemic. While they had been putting on live shows prior, this was their first time back on stage.

“We got approached during the summer and asked if we would like to come to the library, and we said of course.” Comedy Association member Hayden Hatrick said.

However, one thing that probably more scary than all the ghoulish performances, however, was the crowd. Masks while offered, were not required by the comedy association to attend; in addition, there was no effort to screen, or separate groups of people. Vaccines have helped cut down on the infection rate, however, new infections are still occurring. Not all students, however, were intimidated by the lack of social distancing or masks. Logan Neira, a high school student who attended the performance, didn’t feel the need to wear a mask.

“If I have to wear a mask, I will. But if not, I won’t.” Neira said. “Yeah, I’m young. I honestly don’t care too much.”

Like other venues, returning to open spaces with crowds can be challenging. Theaters, bars and restaurants all suffered financially during the pandemic, and are emerging back to mixed results. Some like Neira, do not find going out for events like the comedy night all too difficult. Others, however, find some anxiety in returning to public spaces.

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In Jack O’neil’s imrpov skit, he played a detective on the hunt for a murderer

Jack O’neil, a member of the organization, was one of the many performers who took the stage that night. And it was an important night too, as it was the return of the association since the Covid-19 pandemic swept through Texas. While the group had been performing in Alkek library prior, there was some concern about actually returning to the stage.

“I was mostly nervous about whether we would get a crowd or not because the club has been around for about six years, and we have had a large crowd year by year, but it’s hard to drum up a lot of support whenever your coming from an online environment Initially,” O’neil said. “I think it went amazing. I guess the things I would have done differently were maybe, split down the segments between each performance, so we could get audience retention higher.”’

After the performance drew in a crowd of around 150 people, the Comedy Association feels confident that their future performances will be met with similar numbers of people. The association already has transmission preventions put into place with distance, although the group is still discussing what will be changed in time for their next show. But no matter what they decide to do, the group will still do their best to bring some laughs to Texas State.

“I hope people can understand that we are doubling down, and that it’s gonna be bigger and better than the last one, that we’re not having any doubts, and that we have complete faith in our performing, and in myself.” O’neil said.

C.J. Vetter is a journalism student at Texas State University

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