SALADO, Texas - Signs of businesses coming back to life in Salado could be seen Friday. The Strawberry Patch owner Jim Ruesch said it was good to see some familiar faces again.
"It was amazing, actually I didn't keep up with the Governor's Order, so when they came in it was a complete surprise, to me, and they informed me, it’s the first time in, I don’t know how long, months at least, we had our normal crowd in, and they were enjoying each other's company, drinking coffee and having masks on and gloves, and watching our 6 feet," said Ruesch.
Others in Salado were more cautious. A tea shop, owned by Mary Kelch, is only offering limited access. "So we are going into it optimistically, and then it will get better as time goes on. It really will, I'm just a diehard optimist," said Kelch.
She is also playing it safe. Kelch posted on her front door strict guidelines for doing business with her.
"So, it's going to be a challenge, people are going to have to make changes in how they operate," said Kelch.
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Online sales with curbside pickup are what state officials want to see, but walking from shop to shop and browsing inside is a big part of visiting Salado.
"You want to try on clothes, you want to feel the material," said Darla Reeder.
Reeder recently purchased a boutique on the south end of Main Street. She has hired a social media professional to help but believes survival hinges on getting people, safely, back inside.
"I'm ready to sell, I'm ready to open my business, and I will do whatever it takes to keep my customers and myself healthy, I'm cleaning the doorknobs, I'm cleaning the countertops, all the time. Anything a customer might touch I’m on it all the time," said Reeder.
Facing a challenge is nothing new for those who live in Salado. Before the outbreak even hit, business owners were feeling the economic impact of this road project. The rebuild of Main Street is expected to wrap up later this summer.
To provide some immediate relief, a new support campaign called Salado Strong was launched. "The response has been really good," said Chamber of Commerce Chairperson Lara Tracy.
The main part of the campaign is the sale of t-shirts. The money from the sales, according to Tracy, will be given first to local food banks.
"So we are going to distribute that in $250 increments, that we can start helping them get the resources they need to feeding, not just Salado but they provide meals to like Holland and Academy, Little River places like that," said Tracy.
The campaign includes a donation link off of the Chamber website at firstname.lastname@example.org to help build an emergency fund for businesses in need and for the purchase of gift cards.
"And what we are going to do with those gift cards is to going to go ahead and give those to anyone who is working on the front lines of this, it could be healthcare, it could be the grocery clerk, it could be a number of people," said Tracy.
Few in Salado expect the partial reopening will save every business. Most seem to be embracing the idea that social distancing will have to be part of the new business model for those who do make it.
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