As the state prepares to reopen nonessential businesses, students and employees in College Station are weighing the benefits of getting back to work.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued three new Executive Orders on April 17 to initiate the process of reopening the state’s economy. Nonessential retail services reopened on April 24 with strict pickup or delivery options.
Public service and administration graduate student Claire Gilmore said Abbott’s decision to reopen the economy before most states could increase President Donald Trump’s popularity with Texan voters in November.
“The choice could increase Gov. Abbott’s popularity among voters with a low-income because they have been the hardest hit by this crisis,” Gilmore said. “I think Texans have had a positive view towards Abbott during this time because he has come off as level-headed, measured and considerate of the needs of Texans.”
Public opinion seems split on this executive decision. While Gilmore said she believes the no-contact pick-up is the most reasonable option at the moment, she also expressed concern should Texans accidentally increase infection rates.
“Cases are still rising in the state, and if we open Texas too quickly and ambitiously, we could see a huge second wave in the larger cities, with cases that could overwhelm the hospital system,” Gilmore said. “I personally won’t be leaving my house in the near future, but I understand the need to get the economy up and running again.”
Not all reactions to the prospect of reopening the Texas economy were skeptical. Uptown Cheapskate shift leader Kacey Waddell said the owners of the retail shop were ecstatic to hear Abbott’s plan and reopen on April 24. She said her managers were ready to jump back in with their online presence, Depop store and retail-to-go option.
Waddell said Uptown Cheapskate is complying with all of the guidelines enforced by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, including not allowing customers in the store.
“We just want customers to know that we are being as safe as we can be with masks and keeping our distance,” Waddell said.
Uptown Cheapskate will continue to buy gently-used clothing items from College Station residents, Waddell said.
“We hope to help the community as much as we can by continuing to buy clothes from residents, in case people need some extra cash at this time,” Waddell said. “Though we are selective, we are still allowing people to sell to us.”
Chuck E. Cheese district manager Frank Ramirez said work has completely changed from before the pandemic closed down most stores.
“Our business motto is completely different, especially with limited staffing,” Ramirez said. “Our main way to generate income was by having people come inside to play games, which is obviously not an option at the moment. We only do curbside pickup. Because of the lack of revenue, we had to let people go and only kept essential employees.”
With the constantly adapting store policies, it can be confusing to know which stores are offering which services. Ramirez said the best practice for customers is to call the store prior to arriving.
“With local companies changing every day, I think people are misunderstanding what is open versus what is closed,” Ramirez said. “Yesterday, we had people physically trying to walk into our doors in order to get to the rest of Post Oak Mall; customers are not permitted to do so yet, so just stay informed.”