AUSTIN (KXAN) — Longtime Austin Downtown business owner Shelley Meyer never imagined a pandemic would turn her business world upside down.
“Trust me that none of our leases were undertaken with the expectation of doing 20% (business),” she said. “There’s just no way to financially plan for that.”
Meyer first started about 30 years ago with Wild About Music on Sixth Street, then Austin Rocks, and most recently taking over Toy Joy a couple of years ago which led to the birth of Yummi Joy, a candy specialty store. Today, Meyer oversees six store locations across Austin. Three store locations sit next to each other along Second Street near the corner of Guadalupe Street.
However, since the pandemic hit Austin in mid-March business has been slow.
“Without the office workers and without the tourists there just isn’t enough business to sustain retail in downtown Austin at the moment,” she said.
Meyer said during the time businesses were forced to close, she estimates she, along with her partners, lost over $1.5 million. At present, it’s not any better. She said the stores across the board are doing 20% in business, while Austin Rocks is doing about 30% in business compared to this time last year.
“We need ways to invite the public back downtown,” she said. “There’s plenty to do downtown, it’s just that I think everyone has sort of forgotten about it so we need to reengage our local business.”
Meyer’s neighbors down the block at United Apparel Liquidators said they’ll take all the foot traffic they can get.
“Definitely tourists were the big driving number,” Ade Randle, the store manager at UAL explained. “I feel like our foot traffic is probably down 60%.”
UAL has turned to social media to drum up some online sales. Randle said they’ve had some luck and are doing good.
Saturday, the Second Street District will host a ‘sidewalk sale’ in hope of generating business. Participating businesses will offer sales and discounts.
- Austin Rocks: Buy one clearance item, get one half off
- Barchi Sushi: Happy hour specials from 4-7 p.m.
- Bonobos: Discounted merchandise will be available at Bonobos for customers to leave with that day
- La Condesa: Cocktail to-go pouches
- Mercury Design: 40% off all merchandise
- Orangetheory: First month of membership free with the purchase of a heart rate monitor
- Royal Blue Grocery: Henbit Monster cookie and small coffee for $5
- Sev Laser: TBD
- Solidcore: TBD
- Toy Joy: Plush buy two, get one free
- Trace: Traveling trailer bar (located in front of Trace and the Willie Nelson statue) to sell frosé
- UAL: Major promotions on designer leather handbags. Plus, extra 20% off sale clothing and a fab designer shoe sale, up to an extra 85% off
- Yummi Joy: Select candy for only $1
Face masks are required for all guests. Second Street District customers can get two hours of parking validated. Parking is offered in AMLI garages.