GVEC Community Relations Representative Kasie Tankersley (pictured) joined Community Relations Representative Christine Presley in early May on the Hometown GVEC Tour of local small business as they reopened from COVID-19 closings.
In the last few months, Coronavirus and COVID-19 (the illness caused by the new virus) has caused massive disruption to the American way of life. South Central Texas hasn’t been spared. Stay-at-home orders affected large swaths of GVEC’s service territory, forcing all but “essential” businesses to close for at least a month and, in some cases, longer.
Setting off on the Hometown GVEC Tour
You might be wondering how local businesses have weathered this storm of pandemic-triggered inactivity, and we’ve been wondering, too. In early May, just as stay-at-home orders were beginning to ease, GVEC Community Relations Representatives Kasie Tankersley and Christine Presley set out across our service territory to find out how local small businesses have adapted to mandatory closures and subsequent reopenings. Dubbed the “Hometown GVEC Tour,” our Public Relations team wanted to get to know local businesses and reintroduce these establishments to the Guadalupe Valley as the region reemerges from coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
Each stop along the Hometown GVEC Tour has included an accompanying short Facebook Live video, and we’ve included links for quick viewing. We encourage you to consider visiting any or all of these businesses in support of our region’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
May 5 – Sunken Gardens Eatery
The first stop on the Hometown GVEC Tour found Christine visiting Sunken Gardens Eatery in Shiner. Located at 305 5th Street, this Shiner eatery reopened for public dine-in on May 1. Sunken Garden has been in business since 2012 and is owned and operated by fourth-generation “Shinerites.” Their goal is to provide busy people with healthy, delicious food choices through homestyle cooking made with fresh ingredients. Their menu varies daily, but always includes a selection of chicken, seafood, steak and beef entrees, along with a range of fresh sides and salads and made-in-store desserts.
They’ve also opened a new drive-thru option for added convenience and for customers who might not yet feel comfortable venturing into public spaces. They’ve placed paper towels outside the entrance to the dining room for customers to use in opening the doors to avoid direct contact. All seating is spaced six feet apart. And they’re supplying all customers (and employees) with disposable gloves. Additionally, utensils come in sealed picnic packs. View the video of Christine’s visit to Sunken Gardens here. You can also visit the Sunken Garden website or Facebook page.
May 6 – Bard Craft Designs Embroidery and DHT
For our second stop on the Hometown GVEC Tour, Kasie visited Bard Craft Designs Embroidery and DHT in La Vernia. Located at 12966 US Hwy 87, this local business reopened May 4. It offers personalized designs for business and personal use on a range of items: caps, clothing, stuffed animals, tee-shirts blankets and more. They’ve also begun offering KN95 particulate masks for protection against pollution, pollen, bacteria and, of course, viruses. Bard Craft Designs Embroidery and DHT is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
May 7 – Patek Grocery and Market
Christine visited Patek Grocery and Market for the third stop on the tour. This small, family-owned grocery store and meat market was founded by Joe Patek in 1937 at its current location (224 South Avenue E). In addition to offering all the family staples to the Shiner area since its founding, Patek Grocery and Market has also taken an active part in the community. For example, it pioneered home deliveries in the Shiner area by bringing groceries and meat to elderly and homebound customers long before home delivery became standard across the industry. Patek also donates year-round to various events, benefits and fundraisers in Shiner and surrounding towns.
Patek Grocery and Market continues to thrive in an era when small, family-owned businesses—especially grocery stores—have become relics of a different time. As a food vendor, Patek’s was deemed an “essential” business at the outset of pandemic-related stay-at-home orders. The store has taken several steps to help ensure enhanced safety for their employees and customers during these uncertain times. Those steps include the implementation of exhaustive cleaning routines throughout the day and after closure each night. They’ve also provided employees with masks and gloves and made hand sanitizer publicly available throughout the store. To help maintain proper social distancing, Patek Grocery and Market has placed markers on floors around checkout to guide customers on how far apart they should stand. Moreover, the store had been working on a new website before the pandemic and fast-tracked it after the outbreak, achieving an early April launch.
One of the store’s most important accomplishments during the pandemic is the fact that it’s managed to keep shelves well stocked throughout. This, during a time when many stores have been unable to keep up. Patek management attributes this success, in part, to the many industry relationships the store has built over the decades. For example, the store has done business with some of its grocery suppliers since the 1940s. Such generational partnerships have helped keep Patek sufficiently supplied for the entire community. Patek Grocery and Market offers store-to-door service, curbside and delivery. Its hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
May 8 – Art Attack LV Art Studio
The fourth stop along the Hometown GVEC Tour took Kasie to Art Attack LV Art Studio in La Vernia (111 D.L. Vest), whose motto is “Create Moments that Matter.” At the outset of the pandemic, owner Jenean Mills and her `staff put out a call to the community for help with putting together sets of “art bags.” Their idea was to create an artistic outlet to help keep community kids engaged during stay-at-home orders. The community responded in a big way, donating paint brushes, art kits and paints in large numbers. Combined with supplies from around the studio itself, Jenean and her staff were able to create 300 art bags to give kids something to do while being stuck at home during the pandemic.
The studio also offered “to-go pottery” during the pandemic, which included an online component, allowing people to choose materials before driving to the studio to pick them up at curbside. Once they’d completed painting and preparing those materials, they would then drop them back to the studio, again at curbside, to be “fired” and set. The studio quickly added glass items, door hangers, stoneware mugs, toddler kits, string art and more to their curbside art-to-go options.
In normal times, Art Attack LV hosts birthday parties, kids camps, adult parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, glass classes, after-school art classes and more. For more information, visit the Art Attack LV Facebook page.
May 11 – Angels & Outlaws
For stop number five along the Hometown GVEC Tour, Christine visited Angels & Outlaws in Gonzales (413 St. George Street). Angels & Outlaws carries a wide selection of women’s clothes, plus shirts, caps, totes, bags and much more. The store prides itself on carrying “a little bit of everything for everybody.” At present, this business hasn’t reopened its storefront from the pandemic closure. However, Angels & Outlaws maintains a robust following on Facebook and Instagram, offering sales through both sites, with between 20 and 50 items posted per day on both. They also take orders through the Angels & Outlaws website. At present, they offer curbside pickup, Monday through Friday, 12 to 3 p.m., for all online purchases or by appointment. In regard to a physical reopening, this business is taking a measured, cautious approach, reassessing when it can most safely reopen on a week-to-week basis.
May 12 – Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Kasie paid a visit to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Seguin (256 West Court Street) for stop number six along the Hometown GVEC Tour. Store manager Ricky showed her around. This nonprofit reopened May 1.
The ReStore offers a vast array of products for home or business including couches, chairs, tables, household goods, cups, dishes, gardening and garage items, paint, lightbulbs, light fixtures, sinks, paint, caulking, tile, flooring, windows, doors, AC/heating units, small and large appliances, and more. Their selection of major appliances includes new ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers and more, all at significant discounts. These tend to go quickly, though—frequently in one day or less from the time they’re added to the sales floor. On Wednesdays, every customer can take 50% off any one item in the store (certain exclusions apply). Donations are always accepted, too. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
May 13 – Storey Jewelers
Stop number seven on the Hometown GVEC Tour found Christine visiting Storey Jewelers in Gonzales (1606 East Sarah Dewitt Drive). Owner Paul Neuse joined the Storey Jewelers team in 1979 and bought the store in January 1996. He’s celebrating five years at his shop’s current location. The shop reopened from the pandemic on May 1.
Storey carries a complete line of fine jewelry, including a native American collection. They also offer jewelry repair and custom design. During the pandemic closure, they maintained a by-appointment-only schedule, with available curbside service. They also do business via text message and email through the Storey Jewelers website and through their Facebook page.
Upon reopening, response was extremely good. There was lots of pent-up demand in the community, with people having been unable to give gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions during the closure. A lot of watch batteries had died, too. The store maintained a strong social media and advertising presence during the break and established relationships with a number of ecommerce partners. Plus, Neuse maintained pandemic-related messages on the store’s billboard. Looking to the years ahead, Neuse plans to work hard at staying relevant in a rapidly changing retail environment. He hopes to serve Gonzales’s jewelry needs for years to come. Storey Jewelers is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Curbside service is available.
May 15 – Gift & Gourmet
Gift & Gourmet in downtown Seguin (212 South Austin Street) marked stop eight on the Hometown GVEC Tour. The shop welcomed Kasie for an exploration of its wide selection of lotions, soaps, hand creams, jewelry, and “anything you would need for your kitchen,” including dishwashing liquid, linen spray and much more. The shop also carries lanterns, warmers for melting wax, and John Hart totes, backpacks, wristlets and duffels, along with Tyler Candle Company candles and Glamorous Wash laundry detergent. Gift & Gourmet features a full bridal registry, too, along with kids items, including baby clothes, cups and bowls, and more. There’s also a selection of Kendra Scott jewelry. Curbside pickup is available. Gift and Gourmet is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
May 15 – Come and Organize It
Owner Kasey Rhodes welcomed Christine to Come and Organize It in Gonzales (321 St. Lawrence Street) for the ninth stop on the Hometown GVEC Tour. Rhodes’ unique business offers a range of organizing services for home and office in Gonzales and surrounding counties. These services even extend into the digital realm to include computer data organizing. From garages to attics and all the spaces in between a home or business, Rhodes works hard to create order and stability from chaos and clutter. Examples of her successful projects are available on the Come and Organize It website and on the Come and Organize It Facebook page. She specializes in estate-downsizing sales, too.
Need your home or business cleaned? Rhodes’ Come & Clean It service has you covered. This business was hardest hit by the pandemic closure, but is making a post-closure comeback. Rhodes’ primary “storefront” business is the 321 PopUp Market, which closed during the pandemic and won’t reopen until moving into a bigger space next to the current location. However, her complete inventory is available on Facebook and on the Come and Organize It website, with contactless curbside pickup available. Rhodes also offers photo and scanning services, photo books, video transfer, and consignment services.
May 18 – Camp Gladiator
Business number 10 on the Hometown GVEC Tour wasn’t truly part of the tour. We’re including Camp Gladiator , however, because of the important contribution it provides to the health and wellbeing of residents across GVEC’s service territory in Schertz and Cibolo.
Camp Gladiator trainer Whitney Wilson supplied us with a video overview of how Camp Gladiator has adapted to COVID-19 closures. This business’s mission is to “impact the physical fitness and ultimately the lives of as many people as possible.” Its motto? “Take it outside.” In normal times, you’ll find Camp Gladiator trainers working with participants in the parking lots of schools, churches, businesses, city parks and other such locales. The pandemic forced Camp Gladiator to temporarily shift into an all-virtual workout platform using Zoom teleconferencing. There are five Camp Gladiator partner trainers in Schertz/Cibolo area. For more information, visit the Camp Gladiator website.
May 19 – Bfit Wellness Center
Business number 11 on the Hometown GVEC Tour was the Bfit Wellness Center in Cuero (701 North Esplanade Street). Tammy with Bfit welcomed Christine for a brief overview of this comprehensive fitness center. Opened in 2014, Bfit includes a pool, a cycling studio, a complete workout area with cardio and strength-training equipment, an indoor track, a racquet ball court, group fitness studios, classes and more. Bfit reopened from the pandemic closure on May 18, with partial capacity. They intend to resume group classes sometime in June. To help keep everyone in the community active during the closure, the facility conducted a daily Facebook Live workout. Before the pandemic closure, Bfit was a 24-hour facility, and they plan to resume 24/7 operation as soon as possible. For now, however, their hours are 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit the Bfit Facebook page.
May 20 – The Mill Boutique and The Scoop Ice Cream Parlor
Kasie’s trip to The Mill Boutique and The Scoop Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Cibolo (200 North Main Street) marked business number 12 on the GVEC Hometown Tour. This locally owned shop prides itself on carrying handmade, USA-made items. They offer everything from clothing to home goods to soaps, bath and body, mugs, dog and cat items, and “guy stuff.”
The Scoop Ice Cream Parlor adjoins The Mill Boutique, offering a selection of handmade ice creams from Clear River Creamery in Fredericksburg, Texas. The shop sells ice cream by the cone, cup and quart, along with shakes, malts, banana splits, sundaes and more. They are currently open for eat-in at 25% capacity.
At present, both businesses are open 12 to 6 p.m. Monday to Sunday, but both intend to expand to pre-pandemic hours in the coming weeks. For more information, visit the Mill Boutique Facebook page.
May 21 – Ful-O-Pep Ranch & Garden Center
On May 21, Christine visited the Ful-O-Pep Ranch & Garden Center in Cuero (1551 North Esplanade Street), marking business number 13 on the Hometown GVEC Tour. This family-owned business has been in the same location for the last 22 years. They are a full service feedstore, carrying feed for a wide variety of livestock and pets, along with farm and ranch supplies. Ful-O-Pep carries a range of landscape supplies, patio furniture, bagged goods and more in their Outdoor Living Center.
They’re also an authorized Yeti Cooler dealer and have full lines of clothing and footwear for adults and children. They were deemed an essential business during the pandemic closure, but closed their storefront anyway and limited customer contact to drive-thru only. They accommodated customer needs by accepting phone and drive-thru orders.
As of this writing, Ful-O-Pep Ranch & Garden Center is open at 50% capacity for its retail store, and continues to offer curbside service for customers wanting to limit contact with others. They’re also sanitizing all common surfaces on a regular basis. They’ve installed plexiglass barriers around cash registers and have marked the floors with appropriate social distancing reminders. Visit the Ful-O-Pep Ranch & Garden Center on Facebook or visit the Ful-O-Pep website for great resources, current promotions and featured products.