The Seguin Main Street program is ready to help local small business owners mitigate negative economic damages created by empty shops in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
They are doing this through a “Support Our Locals” initiative that encourages residents to purchase gift cards from participating stores.
“We’re trying to get creative on ways that you can still show support for our businesses,” Seguin Main Street and CVB director Kyle Kramm said. “One of the best ways to do that is buying gift cards to use at a later date just so that these businesses can get cash now and continue to pay their rent and their employees while their sales are down. When things come back to normal, people can come back and use those gift cards.”
There are currently seven businesses signed up for promotion: 1916 Bar and Bistro at the Aumont; Gift and Gourmet; Sandcastle Home Decor; Serenity Boutique; Southern Good; The Shop at Design Associates; and You’re So Crafty.
“A lot of businesses are offering a $5 gift card or $5 coupon if you buy a $25 gift card,” Kramm said. “So for every $25 gift card you buy, you get a $5 gift card. We’re hoping to expand this to multiple businesses outside of just downtown.”
Sandcastle Home Decor owner Tanya Sandquist said the initiative is a great way to support not only her business but all small businesses in the area.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea. I mean, I didn’t think twice about it,” she said. “When they called me, I said, ‘Yep, we’re on board,’ because we want to support the locals.
“There’s some fantastic owners down here and just the shops in general, so we’ve got to fight this craziness going on in the world right now and keep things going.”
Although Sandcastle Home Decor opened its doors just two weeks ago, Sandquist said the store has still felt the effects of the self-isolation.
“You can tell that there’s less people out,” she said. “Usually, the sidewalks are constantly bustling, even during the week. There’s definitely a lot less traffic down here.”
Sandquist hopes to attract customers to her doors in other ways along with the gift card initiative and continue business as usual, she said.
“We’re hopeful that maybe Third Thursday is going to be okay,” Sandquist said. “But we’ve constantly got something going on, some sort of deal in order to attract people in. We are a home decor store, and we carry pretty much everything you can think of indoor and outdoor to make your house cozy.”
Gift and Gourmet manager Ashley Hopper said purchasing gift cards is a great way to support small businesses without leaving the comfort of home.
“I know that this is a scary time and an especially scary time for small businesses and small business owners because a couple bad days can really hurt us,” she said. “So this is a great way to get people to spend money that they can use in the future, whether it’s a gift card they’re purchasing for someone else or for themselves. That way they can support their small businesses without going out into the community. People can always give us a call, and we can do it over the phone.”
Employees at Gift and Gourmet are taking extra steps to maintain the safety of the store.
“We want to make sure our customers feel comfortable when they come in,” she said. “So we have been educating ourselves and have also been doing a lot more cleaning than we normally do and a lot more disinfecting. So we have been doing a deep clean at the end of every day, but we’re also disinfecting throughout the day, all of our pin pads, doorknobs, things that people touch all the time.”
The store is also offering a curbside service for shoppers that may not want to take the risk of leaving their vehicles, Hopper said.
“If there’s something that someone needs, they can always give us a call, and we can make their purchase over the phone, and then they can drive to our store,” she said. “And once they’re here, they can just give us a call, and one of the sales associates will bring them their product.”
Although the location has seen a lapse in visitors of late, Hopper said they plan to keep the doors open.
“We aren’t having as many customers come into our store because of everyone’s self quarantining, which is a good thing. That’s what the nation is wanting us to do,” she said. “We decided to stay open because we’re a small business, and we have gals here that need to work. So, with making that decision, we have educated ourselves, and we’re having team meetings all the time about what we can do to keep ourselves and our customers safe. We’re taking it one day at a time.”
There are many ways to support local businesses, not just purchasing gift cards, Kramm said.
“One way to support is to continue to like and share their social media accounts,” he said. “Another way is sending care packages; everybody is trying to find hand sanitizer right now, so if you have an extra bottle or two, that can be a way to help as well. Also, ordering online or placing orders via the phone because a lot of businesses are willing to walk out to the curb.”
Kramm encourages other business owners who want to take part in the initiative to reach out to Seguin Main Street via its Facebook page.
“Between the city, Economic Development, and Main Street, we are all working together to make sure our businesses remain strong and will be here for us once this all blows over,” Kramm said.
For more information, visit facebook.com/SeguiinMainStreet/ .