Decades-old San Antonio small business counting on Fiesta sales to survive

Amols’ party supplies store survives pandemic with penny-pinching, creativity, loans

SAN ANTONIO – From the piñatas to the papel picado, the colors look brighter inside Amols’ purple party supply store. This year, the lights are on.

“Things are definitely a whole lot better than when we visited a year ago,” said Jeffrey Weiss, owner of the 72-year-old small business on Fredericksburg Road.

A year ago, as the pandemic shut down so much of everyday life, Weiss had to dim the lights at his store at the worst possible time -- Fiesta, the huge cultural celebration complete with parades and parties galore.

Worries? He had plenty.

“It’s basically the two biggest things you can worry about, which was, ‘Are we going to survive?’ and the second, I was incredibly concerned about the staff, and I did not want to have to lay off anybody,” Weiss said.

Thanks to the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program’s forgivable loan, Weiss said he didn’t have to.

But, make no mistake, the past year was no party. Weiss said his revenues for the year were down a whopping 80%.

“It was like we lost a year,” he said.

To survive, the store got creative with sales, offering big signs and decorations for drive-by yard parties. They also pinched pennies and tapped into existing lines of credit. However, it will take time to repay those debts.

“I’m guessing we’re going to need another 12 months to really get really healthy again,” Weiss said.

After a worrisome year, he is now optimistic and heartened to see so many customers returning through his door.

Mary Ann Sullivan was stocking up on Fiesta flowers on Tuesday. She was disappointed the annual party was canceled last year.

“But we’re going to do it now, right?” she said.

It may be a little late this year, but Fiesta is on, and so are the lights.

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