McAllen business owners share ways they’re adapting while others close down

Local News

McALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — McAllen businesses are starting to feel a little more confident about the city’s economy. 

But a recent survey by the Chamber of Commerce about the one big fear these businesses still have – a second wave of COVID-19. 

After nearly four years in business, Rolling with Cream has closed their doors.  

Owners Andrew Gomez and Mark Lewis started the project as a food truck, and within a year they opened a storefront.  

“We always make our money through the summer,” Gomez said. “That can carry us on through the rest of the year. (During) winter, it slows down. 

“So, when pandemic hit and we couldn’t get our summer money like we usually do, we knew we were going to be in for a really rough winter and that we may not make it.” 

Gomez says a loan they received through the Small Business Administration — as well as spending their savings —helped them stay afloat for a few months while sales declined, but it wasn’t enough to last.  

“The big hit was employees,” he said. “We can no longer afford to employ them anymore”  

Rolling with Cream is not the only business suffering. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s latest business status survey — which polls more than 100 local businesses in various industries – shows 5% of owners anticipate having to close within a year.  

But that figure is an improvement from the May survey where 18% answered this way.  

“That means one of two things: businesses have figured out how to move forward, or the businesses that were really concerned at beginning of March have gone out of business,” McAllen Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Steve Ahelnius said. “Maybe we’re through worst part of businesses closing and those still standing and operating are going to be successful moving forward”  

He says it will take about a year to see the full effect of how many businesses close, adding those that have managed to stay open have gotten creative. 

“We’re also seeing a lot of businesses staring to pivot and try to get online, which I think is a smart strategy because it opens your market beyond the RGV,” he said. “It opens the market to the U.S. and even to the world.”  

Waldo Garcia, owner of Handbag Clinic and Boutique, says sales have remained slow since reopening, leading him to explore other routes to bring in an income.  

“We paid more attention to social media,” he said. “By doing that, we started to get repairs from out of Texas.”  

Garcia says for now this is helping him stay afloat. To further promote himself, as well as other small businesses, his store is hosting an event with local vendors at 4 p.m. tomorrow and inviting customers to attend for free and have the chance to win luxury goods.  

Meanwhile, though Rolling with Cream’s storefront is closing, Gomez says they’re exploring the options of catering, opening small creameries in restaurants or being bought out.  

The survey also revealed 50% of business owners say the re-opening of the border to non-essential travel is “highly important,’ though Ahlenius predicts that decision will come after the election. 

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