Since March 11, however, the scene on Grapevine Main Street is different.
“Main Street right now—it's kind of a ghost town, to be honest,” said Monica Housewright, the owner of House of Mo Boutique on Main Street. “Nobody is on Main Street. There's nobody walking around.”
There are more than 80 locally owned shops, restaurants, winery tasting rooms, boutiques and jewelry stores on Main Street, according to the Grapevine Convention & Visitor Bureau. But since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus, or COVID-19, a pandemic March 11, these businesses have had to adapt to a new way of surviving.
“Grapevine has been incredible. Even during the 2008 recession, we continued to flourish on Main Street, but this COVID-19 has brought us to a complete halt,” said Dan Weinberger, owner of Weinberger’s Deli on Main Street, during a March 17 Grapevine City Council meeting. “I did a small survey on Main Street. I’d say most every restaurant I spoke to was at 30% of their volume since Saturday.”
To combat the changing business environment, many Main Street vendors are sharing ideas and cross-promoting products to help garner support for each other. These business owners are looking to remind people that while customers can no longer be inside the buildings, the businesses are still open and willing to serve people however they can.
Jessica Cruz owns the Texas General Store on Main Street. While her store is no longer open to foot traffic, she is offering delivery and shipping as well as curbside pickup. She said many of her customers are looking to ship her store items to friends.
“People are mostly purchasing treats for others, so it has all been shipping or delivery, which has been super fun,” she said in an email. “This is an awesome way to still be able to stay connected to people during this time.”
Hers and other businesses are part of the Historic Downtown Grapevine Association, a nonprofit organization with a mission of enhancing and promoting the historic downtown Grapevine area. She said since the business and shopping world has changed so much due to the coronavirus, the association has served as a support group for the businesses on Main Street. Facebook, email and Zoom meetings are held between members to offer encouragement and brainstorm ideas to help businesses stay afloat.
She and Housewright appeared in Facebook Live video together to help reach a wider audience for their products.
“We’re leaning on each other,” she said.
A new way of doing business
Cruz’s Texas General Store is offering a shopping option on its Facebook page where people can purchase premade packages or work with customers to create custom packages.
This method emulates what fellow Main Street business Rocket Fizz is doing and was shared through the Historic Downtown Grapevine Association.
Rocket Fizz is one of Main Street’s newest stores, having only opened in November last year. It has also closed its store to foot traffic and is instead creating custom packages called RocketBoxes. These include custom candy kits, from Chocolate Lovers to Harry Potter Super Fan treat packages. RocketBoxes are delivered for free to the local area and can also picked up from the store’s curb.
“This community has been extremely receptive to these RocketBoxes,” Rocket Fizz Assistant Manager Ashlee Fort said. “We may be in a little over our head, to be honest.”
Because of the reception from the community, Rocket Fizz is able to give its employees work hours to help assemble the packages even though the store is not open to the public, Fort said. Rocket Fizz has also partnered with its neighbor across the street, Off the Vine, to include a bottle of wine in its Chocolate Therapy RocketBox.
She said while the pandemic has brought negative changes to Main Street, there have been some positives that have come with it.
“I feel like everyone on the street is growing closer,” Fort said. “Mr. Weinberger down at the deli came in yesterday and got RocketBoxes for his wife and his two daughters. And really, it was my first chance to connect with him, and he's an amazing man. And we've just been able to bounce ideas back and forth between us of how to help each other out.”
Housewright’s store, House of Mo, is also a relatively new business to Main Street, having only opened there in July of last year. Her store already had a good number of repeat shoppers, she said, but over the weekend, she noticed repeat business made up about 80% of her sales.
“That means we weren't getting that new foot traffic coming in the door,” she said. “People who knew me, they would come in every week to see what we have new, and they're continuing to [shop]. So they're the ones that are keeping us alive.”
Housewright is using her background in marketing to help increase awareness of her boutique on the internet. She has launched Facebook Live and Instagram videos to serve as a personal shopper, showing her followers what new items she has in store and introducing them to boutique brands. Her followers have been responding, and she has seen an increase in her online sales, she said.
“That way, they can shop from home but still have that personal experience,” she said. “It’s just changing your mindset. 'We don't have foot traffic, but how can we keep generating sales?'”
She also decided to do her own version of Rocket Fizz’s idea and is offering gift baskets for people to purchase online with items that promote shopping locally. During this time, her business is flexible, offering personal deliveries, shipping and curbside pickup for her items.
A community support system
One store that has not seen a slowdown on Main Street is the Farmers Market of Grapevine, owned by Racquel and Jack Morehead. Racquel said the store has actually been busier as local families turn to the market for essential items that are flying off the shelves at big-box stores, such as eggs and honey.
“That’s the wonderful thing about being in Grapevine is the community support, and the city support is just unfathomable,” she said. “And the thing is, not only are they coming out and supporting us, but they come into the store, and they say, ‘We are so grateful you guys are here. Thank you so much for being open.’”
This is nothing new for Grapevine, Racquel said. When the indoor farmers market first opened in 2015, there were only four people to open the store. She said the community rallied around her and her team even then.
“We worked literally through the night,” she said. “And customers would come and bring us lunches and dinners; Weinberger’s Deli would bring us sandwiches. And we didn't ask for anything. They just did it because that's the community that we live in.”
The businesses on Main Street have come together even more during the time of the pandemic to support each other, she said.
“I see businesses really reaching out and helping each other, and especially on historic downtown Main Street, we're a very close-knit family,” she said. “I see a lot of businesses reaching out to help one another in this time.”
This was something Cruz said as well. She agreed that while people have been “distancing,” the Main Street business owners have actually become closer.
“I think we know the best way we’ll get through this is together,” she said.
For a list of businesses in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake that are serving the community through the pandemic, visit this link.