Jorge A Laredo Morning Times, Texas
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet 3 small business owners who made sharp pivots during the pandemic to meet the needs of clients/customers.
Despite the fact that the pandemic has ushered in one of the worst economic crises in recent history, new businesses have been able to open or expand amid the pandemic in Webb County.
In June 2020, Dosis Coffee began serving coffee to the public out of a converted school bus set up in the parking lot of a Tru by Hilton hotel. They roasted their own beans and sold specialty coffee drinks like cappuccinos, lattes and cold brew along with homemade teas and sodas. It quickly became a popular spot.
Then in January, they moved their operation to a permanent space in a nearby strip center.
"It was kind of one of those things that fell into place. I had the dream to make a brick and mortar since the beginning, and the truck was just kind of something that fell into our laps," said Billy Hrncir, co-owner of Dosis Coffee along with his wife Rochelle Mota. "Obviously we did not have any crazy plans to expand during this pandemic, but it just happened that this place opened up and everything was right. Everything kind of came together."
They have halted their coffee truck business while they handle their brick and mortar coffee shop, but Hrncir said they plan to continue to operate their around the city as well, especially in order to reach new areas of the city and to attract more customers to their brick and mortar business.
Dosis' brick and mortar location has been in operation for less than two weeks, but Hrncir said that most of their loyal customer base has already followed them to their new spot.
And despite having opened at the height of the pandemic, Hrncir said that the venture has been successful.
Some other businesses that have opened during the pandemic found a market appropriate for a health scare crisis.
"Understanding that the pandemic was reaching high levels never seen before in other viruses, I knew I had to take action," said Alberto Castañeda Jr., owner of Bust'N Germs. "I asked myself, 'How can I help, what can I do to ease people's minds, how can I keep people safe?' All these questions and more came flooding in my mind. So, then it hit me, I knew if I could at least make people's homes and businesses safe then for the most part we would be able to keep our economy growing and those same business owners and their families safe at home as well."
Castañeda felt that even though he put himself out there right in the face of the pandemic, he would still be helping people in the community, which is important to do in a time of crisis.
Bust'N Germs deep cleans and disinfects with UV light that destroys any microorganisms that touch any surface.
Castañeda states that their company also makes sure that all of their employees are also healthy and not infectious before operating in a home or business.
"First and foremost, our customers need to know that our employees are vetted," Castañeda said. "We follow strict guidelines when it comes to our hiring process. ... We are local so we care for our locals."
Other local entrepreneurs have not yet opened their businesses, and are waiting for the pandemic to calm down a bit before showcasing it. One of these is a new wellness and contour center in Rio Bravo, which would be the first business of its kind in this small community located south of Laredo.
"This idea came from my love for always encouraging women to feel their best, and I figured what better way than to offer the service of getting them in their desired weight loss goals," said Amanda Aguero, owner of Amanda Parker Body Contour Wellness Center and also a City of Rio commissioner.
The soon-to-be new business owner stated that the idea behind her business is to offer a unique service close to her small community, so women do not have to go elsewhere for the products and services they want and so local women can feel more empowered in the area as well. The main service they will offer to their customers is body contouring.
"My goal for my business was to create a beautiful, safe space where women could come out feeling beautiful and more confident than ever," Aguero said. "I wanted to offer these services for people in my beloved city because, since we live rather far from things, I want to give my people the convenience of getting all their beauty needs close to home."
Something customers may wonder is why these businesses are choosing to open now when so many members of the community fear leaving their home.
Hrncir said that most of the customers who visited Dosis when they were in the food truck now feel it's "surreal" that they have opened up a shop.
"I'm not ignorant, and I understand that a lot of businesses, especially in this industry, are struggling to move products and get people through their doors as people are afraid," Hrncir said.
Considering Laredo is one of the most infected cities in the U.S., these new business owners understand that a second lockdown is not out of the realm of possibility.
If this does occur, Hrncir said they would adjust their business to be carry-out only and go back to working out of the coffee truck.
Dosis Coffee is located at 7220 A Bob Bullock Loop Suite 105, can be contacted by calling 956-286-0643 and their website is dosiscoffee.tx.com.
BUst'N Germs LLC is located at 2902 E. Locust and they may be contacted by calling 956-251-6069. Amanda Parker Body Contour Wellness Center will be located at 606 Peña Dr. in Rio Bravo when they open on Feb. 28 and the business can be contacted by calling 956-290-1363.
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