Worst timing ever for small business that caters to Fiesta crowds

‘You can’t sell a lot of sombreros'

SAN ANTONIO – Inside Amols’ purple-painted showroom on Fredericksburg Road, it looks like party. Only, nobody came.

“When people are scared about the virus, and at the same time you can’t have gatherings of 10 or more, you can’t sell a lot of sombreros,” said Jeffrey Weiss, third generation owner of the Amols’ Party and Fiesta Favors.

The doors are locked and have been for more than a month. The store is stocked to the rafters with vividly-colored paper flowers and banners. Fiesta is high season for this party supply store. But with no demand for piñatas, business is a bust.

“Just locally, for Fiesta, we are talking seven figures,” Weiss said of his losses just in April.

In-store sales have been shut down and online sales are down 80%, he said. Still, he is grateful for the few online orders that do trickle in.

Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped some San Antonians from celebrating Fiesta at home

Bad timing has dealt a devastating blow to this small business that depends on large gatherings.

Cinco de Mayo is their second biggest money-maker. But, it’s only two weeks away, and sales don’t look promising.

The hardest part for Weiss was sending his employees home and figuring out how to pay them.

The first day he could apply for the Payroll Protection Program forgivable loan through the Small Business Administration, he did. He was one of the lucky ones. His loan was approved, he said, “in the knick of time.”

“That was the biggest relief I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Weiss said.

At the beginning of the business shutdown, Weiss said his worry was off the charts, for his employees and the business his grandfather started in 1949.

“Besides having the worry about what to do with the employees, the other thing killing me was after 71 years, there’s no way this is how it ends,” he said.

Now that business is being allowed to slowly re-open, Weiss is more optimistic. He will offer some curbside service, but anxiously waits for further guidance from health and government leaders.

He says he will tread water until fall when Halloween, Day of the Dead, and the rescheduled Fiesta are penciled in on the calendar.

Take a look at new fall Fiesta schedule

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