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Bars push merchandise, other creative options to make sales

‘Support small businesses because they need it badly,’ bar owner says

SAN ANTONIO – Cacey Kovacs, owner of Hill Country Distillers in Comfort, Texas, said customers have been very understanding about the business’s need to push sales of food, souvenirs and even tokens.

“We explain this to people and encourage them to buy a bandana, a mask or a cup. And people have been pretty darn good about it,” she said.

But for the regulars, there’s only so much merchandise the business can push. So Kovacs offers them an $8 token option so they can buy food on another day.

“Or if you like, we can send the money over to the local food bank,” she said.

Only a few people have taken her up on that option, but she’s very clear to point out it’s not a donation.

“I’m ringing it up as retail. I’m paying sales tax on it, and then at the end of the month, I will write that check and take it over to the food bank,” Kovacs said.

It’s just another creative tool beverage businesses have to use to stay alive.

“We’re happy we have the option. We’re just trying to make the best of it,” Kovacs said.

The owner of Brew Monkey Beer Co. said he’s been forced to reduce the price of some drinks and include the purchase of a koozie so that sales even out.

Jody Bailey Newman, the owner of The Friendly Spot, says their merchandise, known as Beer Couture, has always been a hit, but she’s counting on it now.

“People who have visited The Friendly Spot in the past have been purchasing T-shirts and that type of stuff,” she said.

Newman is also exploring the token to a charity option.

“There are so many businesses doing so many inventive things that it really shows the creative nature of our business,” she said.

And in a time of crisis, Newman says mom-and-pop shops are in a dire situation.

A recent survey by the Texas Restaurant Association revealed 50% of restaurant operators believe their business will not be open in six months if they don’t get some government relief.

Newman, who’s also a board member of Launch SA, which supports small businesses and entrepreneurs, says some of them are taking on debt for the first time, renegotiating their leases and trying anything to survive.

“What it appears right now with all the numbers from the Texas Restaurant Association and data locally is that there is a chance that 30% of our small, independent food and beverage businesses will not make it to the end of the year,” Newman said.

So bars have to continue to push the merchandise, food sales and whatever else they can to make it.

“Please, please, support local, support small businesses because they need it badly,” Kovacs said.


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