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'It has to get better:' local retailers reopen for to-go service after weeks of shutdown

Robby Pettinato, principal toy curator at Toy Joy stores, reaches for a sound mixer on the shelf at Toy Joy on Friday. The mixer is also sold at Wild About Music, the store's downtown location, but crossover inventory was sent to the toy store after the music shop was deemed nonessential. Toy Joy was allowed to remain open because it sells educational toys. (Karen Brooks Harper)

Shelley Meyer, owner of the iconic Wild About Music shop in downtown Austin, was finally able to sell band T-shirts, music posters, and other music-themed gifts today for the first time in nearly a month.

Along with other shops defined as nonessential, Wild About Music has been effectively closed since a March executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott, but as of a new executive order issued last Friday, can now conduct business on a to-go basis.


"It has to get better," said Meyer, who also owns Toy Joy, Yummy Joy and Austin Rocks. "The more public it becomes that we're open, it won't just be us trying to tell the world. It'll be more of an expectation."

High fashion, novelty gifts, art, furniture—for weeks, merchants like these have been relegated to selling on national online marketplaces or simply waiting it out with no income.

Abbott's order impacted more than 90% of small businesses across the nation, said Dixie Patrick, president of the Austin Independent Business Association. The group represents about 1,000 independent businesses, about half of which are retail, she said.

Even businesses that the order defined as essential felt the burn. Business is down 70% at Precision Camera, which supplies audio/video equipment to news media and churches, said General Manager Gregg Burger. Customers who weren't regulars assumed that they were closed.

"Everyone will know to call us now," Burger said.

One challenge is to make sure businesses have access to the required hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, Patrick said.

Another is that some smaller retailers have never been online before, she said, and now that customers can't browse indoors, it's much more important to the store's success.

"There is a subset of people who are really starting from scratch," she said.

At Wild About Music, Meyer and her crew have been moving a couple of guitars a week through reverb.com, a national online music store, but they are still at their highest annual inventory levels every February, when they stock for SXSW, which was canceled.

Their experiments with online sales were a bust in the past because there was too much competition with national online retailers, said Meyers.

Now they've revived their web store and consolidated all their shops' curbside and phone business at their Toy Joy/Yummy Joy location on Airport Boulevard to cut costs.

They also let customers browse their music store through Zoom or FaceTime by appointment—the closest they can get to in-person sales.

Hopefully, she said, it'll be enough for now. While she may be one of the city's larger local retailers, she also has a lot on the line.

"We've got a barrel of stuff and are in a barrel of hurt over this," Meyer said.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway