Many small businesses had to shutter their doors to protect the families of staff and customers, losing their livelihood “in the blink of an eye”, as some described. Many are excited to see the re-opening, and we spoke with several local business owners today about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our local community.
COOL IDEA: Even if you and your family are not comfortable venturing out yet, you may consider purchasing a gift certificate from your favorite local restaurants, salons, and shops to show your support.
The Galvan family are some of the many small business owners who had to shutter the doors of their salons in Devine and their two barber shops in Lytle and Pearsall as well.
“We closed our shops on March 18th, 2020,” stated Maria Galvan at 888 Hair Salon & Studio in Devine. “It was a total of 50 days, and we had a total of 19 employees out of work.”
“We are very happy to re-open to the community. We feel very safe following the guidelines per licensing. The community is our main focus during this pandemic. We welcome everyone! We will adhere to the guidelines as long as it is necessary, anything to make our clients feel safe. We had a great response from the community,” Galvan said.
“In a blink of an eye, we found ourselves and 19 employees without a job and no visible means of income,” Galvan said. “My husband and I found ourselves keeping our faith up standing in the promises of God, provision, protection. We learned one thing out of all this, to depend 100% on Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and to wash our hands constantly.”
The salon and barber shops reopened May 8th, taking many precautions including “face coverings and sanitation rigorously practiced, not forgetting distancing of 6 ft apart as well as taking the temperatures of employees and everyone being serviced.”
Queta’s Mexican Cuisine, opened their new business in Devine just before the pandemic hit.
“It’s been hard……It was exactly a month and 3 days after we opened that we received a letter asking us to close,” stated Jose Mares. “We are excited to re-open, but everyone needs to be safe and we are taking many precautions including wearing masks, providing hand sanitizer to everyone. We are using plastic ware instead of silverware, and to-go menus so everything can be thrown away instead of re-used. Customers can also Request to be served on to-go plates if they wish. We are still doing curbside, to-go, and deliveries to the Devine and Natalia area as well.”
“We are just barely getting by,” stated co-owner Kevin Sheeran. “Hopefully cases will keep going down and the vaccine will work and people will be able to feel safe getting out again soon. We are doing everything we can to help our customers feel safe eating at Queta’s.”
RJ’s Cafe in Devine is continuing to serve customers via curbside only due to limited space, as well as deliveries to businesses.
“We are continuing to serve customers with curbside meals and deliveries to local businesses. It’s been hard, and there have been days when we’ve only had 5 customers in a day, and you can’t stay open with that so we’ve had to reduce hours, especially on Monday,” stated Julissa Pequeno at RJ’s Cafe.
Lyl Milly’s Food Trailer in Lytle is also excited to open back up.
“I shut down for about 5 weeks, and it was hard. It was really hard, especially not knowing exactly how long it would be until we could re-open. But the re-opening is going really well. We do mainly take-out meals, and people like that our seating and tables are outside,” stated owner Trini Carrillo.
SMALL OIL PRODUCERS
The oil industry has also been hit hard as the supply built up and the demand decreased.
We spoke with local independent crude oil producer Ross Hardwick, who has worked in the industry since 1984, and got a few wells of his own in ’86.
“It was getting to where oil haulers don’t have anywhere to put the oil, and then this disease hit and everything shut down. Pipelines and storage facilities were filling up. It actually went negative down to -$37 per barrel. That’s the first time in history we’ve ever seen that,” Hardwick said.
“We actually were told we would have to pay oil haulers to take our oil instead of them buying it because the price was negative,” Hardwick adds. “It’s been a weird time, but I think next month things are going to be much better. We should be up and selling again, and our hauler stated we would get an extra $4 bonus on whatever the average monthly price is. We might be making around $20 a barrel and you can feed your family on that if you are a small company with low overhead, but I don’t know about those larger companies who have such a high overhead. It’s all supply and demand. Every Wednesday we can see the inventory of oil, and last week the inventory went down, so I’m hopeful it will go down again this week. We will see.”
Dynamic Physical Therapy closed their doors for about a month, and recently opened back up to serve customers on May 4th.
“We know our patients need us so we are excited to open back up, but we know we also had to do our part to keep our patients safe during this pandemic. While we were closed, it gave us a chance to purchase lots of masks and supplies to create a safe environment and give everyone peace of mind while they are here,” stated owner and doctor Martin Noyola at Dynamic Physical Therapy.
The business employs a total of 8 people in Devine and Pleasanton clinics, and Noyola is one of many small business owners who have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program loan and is awaiting approval.
“With no patients there is no revenue, so we have taken avenues that are available to help businesses at this time,” Noyola said.
A Bushel and a Peck owner Cindy Morales states, “Our customers have been wonderful. They have been very patient and very gracious, even on busy days like Mother’s Day when we had customers waiting outside to come in. We’ve been very blessed. Of course it is hard to stock inventory without sales, so we are happy and grateful to be able to open back up. We closed the shop before it was mandatory, just to be safe, so we’ve been closed for several weeks since mid-March. We reopened the shop at 25% capacity on May 1st and we are limiting to 8 people at a time in the store.”
Kathy Jaworowski at Country Gals Market also reopened the doors May 1st.
“We reopened with regular hours May 1st. During closures, I was able to provide an online shopping experience, selling items using video on Facebook and Instagram. We also FaceTimed customers and provided curbside service. I guess the hardest part of all of this distancing is not being able to see people. I miss my family, friends and all of our wonderful customers who have been nothing but supportive through this whole mess.”
Cindy Morales, who owns Morales Realty, stated, “Some sellers did pull their properties off the market to avoid people walking through their houses during the pandemic, and we worked with buyers and sellers to respect everyone’s wishes. But the real estate market has been very steady. We have been very busy, especially with the interest rates being so low. We have continued showing properties by appointment and working remotely from home for many weeks. We miss seeing each other, but we have been very blessed that the market has been steady.”