SAN MARCOS, Texas - A new study lists San Marcos in the top ten most financially vulnerable college towns in the U.S. during COVID-19.
Empty sidewalks, locked doors, and handmade signs are the new normal around the once lively San Marcos square. The majority of businesses are either closed or operating on limited hours.
“It’s been tough just like every community out there. We are no different,” said Jason Mock, president of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce.
With the university closed, business in the city is at a crawl.
“Our students are a very high percentage of our population and having Texas State in our backyard, really in our front yard they’re in our downtown, is kind of unique for any community, so missing the students is tough for a lot of us,” Mock said.
About a handful of businesses have closed permanently, according to Mock, but he said most of them were already on the brink before the governor issued the first shutdown orders. How many others will join that list depends on how long closures and occupancy limits drag on.
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“It’s too early to tell. I think the true test will be come January, February of next year and let’s see what that brings about,” said Mock.
Business owners in the square said the turning point will depend almost entirely on how many college students return to campus. In the meantime, they're doing everything they can to hold on.
“It’s been sad, but we’re hoping, we’re very, very hopeful, that whenever the school comes back in person, we’ll see those friendly faces that we see all the time,” said Lindsey Hyden, an associate at Pitaya, a clothing store in downtown San Marcos.
Texas State University plans to welcome students back to campus at the end of August, but, even then, students will have to quarantine for two weeks before they can attend any activities on campus.
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