AUSTIN, Texas — As many Texas businesses anxiously wait to open their doors, others are cautious.
In fact, a group of Austin vintage stores doesn’t plan to re-open soon, despite the fact that Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing them to.
Feathers Boutique Vintage on South Congress Avenue is one of them.
Where once upon a time, it was a destination for visitors and locals alike, now the store is eerily quiet.
“It’s very bizarre down here on South Congress. You can hear the birds chirp. There’s not a single person out walking. It’s a bit of a ghost town,” owner Emily Hoover said.
Hoover has owned Feathers Boutique Vintage for 15 years. Every year, she spends months preparing for South By Southwest.
“I definitely had spent a few months in preparation to not only grow my inventory but even to source out special pieces to only have during that time. A lot of people choose to come and maybe not have their outfits ready yet. They like to come in and let us decorate them head to toe for all of their amazing events,” Hoover said.
So when one of the largest festivals in town was canceled, she was devastated.
“I remember very clearly when I found out. I was in Sante Fe, actually, doing a buying trip, my last buying trip before this was supposed to start. And I just felt this sinking feeling like, ‘Wow, I just invested so much time and energy since January 1 to get ready at this,’ and so I was very upset,” Hoover said.
She closed her doors on March 17. The COVID-19 pandemic has cost her $70,000 so far.
To re-coop her loss, Hoover wants to open her doors immediately – just not under current conditions and not under Gov. Abbott’s executive order allowing businesses like restaurants, retail and malls to open on May 1 as long as capacity doesn’t go over 25%.
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“I just think right now, we don’t have the data and the information or the peace of mind just yet to be able to do that safely,” Hoover said.
She isn’t the only one that feels that way. In fact, she’s one of 32 vintage store owners in Austin that doesn’t plan to open on Friday. All are part of the Vintage Around Town Guide.
Rebekka Adams is the group’s spokesperson. She’s also the owner of Bloomers and Frocks, a vintage shop on South First Street.
“All of us are not ready to open until the health of the people is put first and it’s safe to do so. We don’t want to put our employees in jeopardy. A lot of us are single owners and if we get sick, our business is done,” Adams said.
She’s worried about customers who window shop out of boredom.
“If they haven’t been tested, they might not necessarily be shopping, so is it worth the risk of opening for people to get out to do something to ease their boredom?” Adams said.
She said they can’t afford to dry-clean thousands of items every day so other customers can safely try on clothes – because they not only want to create an inviting space but a safe one as well.
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