A. Lee Graham firstname.lastname@example.org
FORT WORTH – Peter Schroder gazed out the window and hoped to see more customers. So did other Near Southside restaurateurs and retailers, stung by low customer turnout after icy conditions kept folks at home during the recent cold snap. Many reported fewer customers since wintry weather arrived in Texas overnight on Dec. 5.
But a grassroots effort aims to make up for lost profits – the Near Southside Snowday Save fundraiser is urging residents to patronize local businesses. “Our beloved Near Southside, Fort Worth small businesses have taken a financial hit from the recent winter weather,” reads a post on the drive’s Facebook page. “Please spend locally this week to help them recoup.”
That would please Schroder, whose Old Neighborhood Grill on Park Place Avenue enjoys a loyal following – so loyal, in fact, that some customers said they knew their breakfast mainstay would be open despite the ice and sleet. “We are so grateful to those customers,” said Schroder, who opened for breakfast on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 but cut lunch short on both days – and scrapped dinner hours altogether – so his employees could drive home before roads became impassable. Closing early and serving fewer customers cost plenty, according to Schroder. So did losing business from the Candlelight Christmas in Ryan Place Holiday Home Tour, an annual tradition that usually sends cash registers ringing at many neighborhood businesses when tour guests patronize local shops and restaurants. This year’s tour was unable to draw the thousands of anticipated visitors as a result of the storm.
“We lost a lot that weekend, but are we grateful for the business we got? Yes. We are truly grateful for our guests,” Schroder said. Spearheading the Snowday Save campaign is Megan Henderson, events director with Fort Worth South Inc., a nonprofit firm dedicated to Near Southside revitalization. “A lot of these businesses took a big financial hit. They work so heavily on the tips and hourly wages that they earn, that that’s a pinch for the individual employees as well,” Henderson said. Hoping to steer some business their way, Henderson conceived a weeklong campaign encouraging folks to drop by those neighborhood shops a bit more often.
“The goal is to make one day this week, at least, where you leave your brown bag lunch at home and support some businesses by either having lunch or dinner there or making a purchase you wouldn’t have otherwise made,” Henderson. The drive had no monetary goal; rather, the idea was to show support by shopping between Dec. 9 and Dec. 16. The campaign marks Fort Worth South’s first such effort, Henderson said. As of Dec. 11, the effort’s Facebook page listed 380 Facebook members as “going” and 27 as “maybe” participating. That’s out of a total 1,005 invited to help out.
Organizers spread the word through social media, including Facebook and emails circulated among Fairmount, Ryan Place, Mistletoe Heights and Berkeley Place neighborhood association websites. “Social media has definitely been our most compelling presence,” said Henderson. More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/nearsouthside