Shopping local is the most effective way to support your community rather than going to big chain companies. The impact that you can have on small local businesses in your community is big, and you can really help them out by participating in their events, buying products, or even just talking about them with family and friends.
At the start of the pandemic, it was difficult for Grand Slam Pizza and the owners, the Lees, to adjust to slower business, especially because it was shut down. They were on track to close, but luckily Cheryl Leonard who owns Magic Make Readies ATX, an apartment maintenance business, came to the rescue with a fundraiser and a plan to help the Lees. They decided to sell sponsorships for tables that were handmade by Emily Hunt. Leonard and her business also renovated the space by adding new floors, paint, and chairs.
Lily Lee said, “Business was much slower from before, but because of the Dripping Springs community, how much they chipped in, and how they were dedicated to supporting local businesses, it had been better than what other businesses might have been going through. Because it’s been going on for so long, it’s like pandemic fatigue, and the business is slowly going back down but we are trying to handle it the best we can.”
Many different businesses and entrepreneurs came together to support this beloved place in Dripping Springs. This is an example of the power of a dedicated community. The owners of Grand Slam are so thankful to the community not only because of the financial support but also because of the love that the community has shown them during this time.
Lee said, “I want to thank everyone in the community because I don’t know if I could even go through this without their support they are showing us, and their prayers. I hope we can go through this pandemic together.”
Another small business with a dedicated group behind them is Crossfit 737. This gym is an all-inclusive, family-owned, family-friendly space that offers many programs to athletes to help them grow stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually in order to be able to lead their communities through their actions, not just words.
“We feel very blessed to have a strong community of people,” owner Chris Bodman said. “Not only did most of our members remain loyal and committed during the shutdown, but they also came back ready to work hard and increase their fitness abilities.”
This business was also forced to shut down due to COVID. They decided to look at the bright side of their situation and find ways to improve their facilities. When their customers and athletes came back, they wanted to make sure everyone felt safe and welcome. They underwent lots of renovations, as well as small changes such as updating their website. New COVID policies were set in place as well in order to keep everyone healthy.
“The pandemic caused our business to close our doors for 60 days. This was a scary time for us business owners, but we took this opportunity to focus on resetting our intentions and focusing on the back end systems and facilities while staying in full communication with our members. We spent the time programming home workouts and workouts for those with equipment in their home gym as well as freshening up the resources we use to market our gym,” Bodman said.
While some businesses were scared and on the decline, boutiques were prospering. Revel Wilde and Vintage Soul moved online and grew during the most challenging time of this pandemic. Although they might have feared for their business at the beginning, they are both doing very well and even have plans to expand. Revel Wilde is expanding into the building next to their current shop and are expecting to sell larger pieces there.
“Strangely, our business has grown during this time. When COVID first shut down our area we quickly realized that we needed to still be able to reach our people but in other ways. We pivoted by ramping up more support for our online business and encouraged everyone to shop online and tried to make it as easy as possible. During COVID our store actually expanded by opening up a warehouse space where we can receive and ship items out daily,” Vintage Soul owner Julie Crawford said.
On December 5, Christmas on Mercer is going to be the main holiday event hosted by the small businesses on Mercer street. Stores such as Starrs on Mercer, Revel Wilde, Vintage Soul, etc. will be open that night. With an option to shop outdoors in front of the storefront for customers not wanting to come inside, they hope to encourage a large turnout. At Crossfit 737, they will be hosting their annual charity toy drive and workout called “naughty or nice.” The charity supports and serves local children and families in our community by collecting toys and raising money for children in need.
Senior and Revel Wilde employee Makayla Banton said, “Christmas on Mercer will be a lot of fun and it will be great. I’m really glad that we are able to do that this year. It’s very exciting.”
If there is one thing that they all have in common, it’s gratitude and thanks toward the community for all of their recent support. As members of the Dripping Springs community, we have to make sure to support small local businesses, because behind every sign and product there is another community member just like the rest of us.
“The Dripping Springs community will always have my heart,” Crawford said. “Everyone is so supportive of this business and again, they continue to root for me and this business to do bigger and better things. They truly push me to be better today than I was yesterday. I can’t imagine having this store anywhere else.”
You can go check out all of the boutiques and stores on Christmas on Mercer on December 5. There are so many unique shops on Mercer, and even if you don’t end up buying anything or participating in any events, spread the word about the business to family and friends. If you haven’t already, go to Grand Slam to see the renovations and support the Lees by buying a pizza, and see if you or anyone you know is interested in training at Crossfit 737. Along with the businesses mentioned above, there are many more that you can find that weren’t mentioned They still need your support too.
“Local small businesses help connect the community,” sophomore Carly Murphy said. “When you support small businesses you also support their families and everybody else in the community. They do so much for schools and other things too… just try and shop local.”
By Mallory Neff, staff writer