Mercedes Businesses Adapt & Adjust To Coronavirus Crisis
Tulum Seafood is normally a busy place filled with families, Winter Texans, and meetings of a local Lions Club.
These days in the era of the coronavirus crisis, the dining room is quiet, but the entrepreneurship of Tulum still runs strong.
Its Facebook page offers daily specials and witty posts to lift spirits. Tulum is all delivery and curbside services until restaurants can reopen their dining rooms.
“The truth is we’re doing all we can to survive and deal with the situation,’’ Jose Carmona said of his Mercedes business. “We want to do what we can for our community, and hope we get their support.’’
Tulum like many small businesses in Mercedes and the Rio Grande Valley is adapting best it can to the stunning change of events of recent weeks as the coronavirus approached and reached Texas. Restaurants, bars and gyms were ordered closed by Texas Gov. Glenn Abbott on March 20, with the directive to last until April 3. Both Hidalgo and Cameron counties have issued shelter in place directives to last until early April.
Tulum is located alongside Expressway 77/83, a mile or so from the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets. The mall ordered all of its retail outlets to close on March 18 and reopen on March 30. The mall’s closing forced businesses such as Shannon’s Sweets to regroup. The bakery and restaurant at the outlets is owned by Shannon Farrell. She is ramping up her delivery services.
“We formulated a game plan,’’ Farrell said. “We’re reaching out to clinics and offices that are really busy right now and don’t have time to go out and get food.’’
Farrell had built up a steady business of delivering cakes, pastries, salads and sandwiches in the Mid-Valley area. She looks to those services to sustain her business until the outlet mall can reopen.
“We’re keeping to our faith that God will get us through this (situation),’’ she said. “We hope to come out stronger on the other side.’’
At Rios of Mercedes Boot Company, Clayton Evans, the chief financial officer, and the management team is supporting local businesses. Rios is ordering delivery of meals from local restaurants to give them much needed business while providing their employees a needed benefit during these times of long lines to get into grocery stores.
Rios began making adjustments on its factory floors weeks ahead of the coronavirus becoming more of a threat. Workstations were moved around to create more space between workers. Employees were encouraged to stay home if they felt ill. The thoroughness of cleaning their facilities, Evans said, was “stepped up a couple of notches.’’
“Small businesses need their employees,’’ Evans said. “Caring for them is of the utmost importance. We’ll work together to weather this storm.’’
- Ricardo D. Cavazos