But by a few weeks later, that influx of foot traffic at Horizon Specialty Market and Bakery had slowed substantially, Patel said.
“In April, I saw people weren’t coming to shop anymore,” said Patel, the store’s owner. “I really went to people’s houses, door to door, like, in my personal car.”
Patel reached out to his core customers by email, plus an additional audience via Facebook, to let them know that Horizon would deliver groceries to their homes. The store soon received dozens of emails with interest in the service. To save money on delivery, instead of hiring another company, Patel made the trips himself.
Most people receiving groceries had no idea they were being delivered by the owner of the business, Patel said.
Before the coronavirus forced Patel and other business owners to find creative ways to address the challenges of life in a pandemic, Horizon had already made a name for itself in the community by offering a wide variety of foods from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian countries.
“Our niche is the halal market,” Patel said. “We are [a] 100% halal market, so our standard has to be really, really high when it comes to meat and groceries in general.”
Revenues have been higher now than they were when the pandemic began, but the store has still had its share of difficulties to overcome, Patel said.
"One of the challenges I faced was getting products here," Patel said. "Bringing products here, there were weeks where I didn’t have any rice."
Some of the foods sold at Patel's store had to be imported from other countries, he said.
Like other grocery stores, Horizon also had to figure out how to continue operating while complying with safety guidelines from health authorities to protect customers and employees.
"We’re a small business," Patel said. "Our goal is to be part of the community."
Horizon Specialty Market and Bakery
2901 W. 15th St., Plano
Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily