SAN MARCOS – Many local small business owners in San Marcos, TX amidst a pandemic have taken to different methods of self-promotion and keeping their businesses alive in an unforgiving pandemic.
While the entire world faces a crippling pandemic, slowing a large amount of productivity in many industries over the past year, small businesses are facing great difficulties when trying to remain afloat while abiding by social distancing rule. According to Yelp’s September 2020 Local Economic Impact Report, “The last Yelp economic average showed a decreasing number of overall closures, 132,580 in total. As of August 31, 163,735 total U.S. businesses on Yelp have closed since the beginning of the pandemic (observed as March 1), a 23% increase since July 10.”
Small business owners have felt the indirect effects of COVID-19 . The longer the pandemic continues to drag on, the risk of permanent closure increases, adding further stress to many of the small business owners across the U.S. Many of the forms of relief put in place to aid small businesses such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, while providing immediate economic relief to the many small business owners, has proven ineffective as many businesses remain to close or become permanently closed.
The closure of these businesses not only effects the business owners, but it effects the employees as well. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), from the 5800 businesses interviewed in their 2020 study, only a few weeks into the crisis, mass layoffs occurred. With 43% of the interviewed businesses closing temporarily, one of the main reasons for the closure was due to the laying off of employees due to either lack of income made due to COVID-19 or the health concerns business owners had with the pandemic.
How Local Businesses are dealing with the pandemic
Despite all this, many local businesses in San Marcos have taken their own approach to dealing with the pandemic. Tom Neuendorf, owner of 5N Farms has taken to travelling to several local farmers markets around Texas each week in order to remain in business. “Since the pandemic started, I began travelling each week to different cities in Texas such as Killeen and the Houston area on weekdays and I travel down here to the Buda, San Marcos and metro Austin area during the weekends. Meat sales have actually gone up substantially since I began this new routine.” During the beginning of the pandemic, Neuendorf faced difficulty processing meat, as many of the plants had closed down due to the closure of many processing plants and employee cuts. “Our meat sales were down drastically down at the time. One because customers were in a panic and just didn’t want to buy meat at the time, and because we just couldn’t get meat to sell because all the processing plants were closed down. Produce however sold relatively normally, which is what kept us going.”
Another small business, local to San Marcos, Kirc Studio, has also taken a creative approach to selling their products. Kiana Reyes, owner of Kirc Studio has also been impacted by COVID-19, having to find new methods to keep her business running during a pandemic. When asked how she is handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Reyes stated “I turned to selling my products on Etsy since I don’t have to interact face to face with anyone, plus it’s a lot easier to sell them online anyways.” Not only this, but Reyes has turned to selling her products at the local farmers market that runs every Saturday at the Square in San Marcos, offering the same products she sells online normally.
Other business owner like Carson Nichols, who owns Apache Spirit Bison Co., , located in San Antonio, but operates locally in San Marcos, offer free shipping to local customers and have expanded their shipping options nationwide. “With the pandemic lowering our sales, we had to find a new way to sell our bison and we think offering free shipping locally incentivizes people locally to remain loyal to our company. We’ve also done our best to keep in touch with our customers by offering fast response times on our platforms, such as Facebook to help with any concerns or receive any feedback they have to offer.”