As the coronavirus continues to spread across Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a mandated shutdown on Thursday, March 19 closing down the remaining schools, gyms, bars and restaurants until April 3.
Bryan-College Station is home to many small athletic businesses that have suffered since the coronavirus entered the United States.
Not only is Brazos Valley Barbell’s revenue from membership fees on hold, but owner David Woolson said he has also seen a decrease in profits from people joining the gym.
“The beginning of the revenue started at the beginning of the month, so we haven’t lost a whole lot, maybe a couple hundred bucks just because we haven’t had people signing up,” Woolson said. “We could easily be down 25 percent next month and probably worse the month after. Worst case scenario it could be shutting us down completely.”
Bryan College Station Boxing saw a loss of over 60 percent on March 15 and will be receiving zero profit until they reopen, said Carl Perry, owner and Class of 2006.
“On a moral level, I can’t charge these people for something they can’t come and use,” Perry said. “Same will follow on April 1 if we are not allowed to open on April 3 since that will be our next automatic draft.”
Perry said it will take a considerable amount of time and effort to recover. However, he has started 30-minute long Facebook Live workout sessions to keep people on their feet.
“Even with two or three weeks off it’s going to take a toll,” Perry said. “Within those two or three weeks people get back to that basic routine where they’re sedentary, doing nothing again, so it’s hard to get motivated to come back in.”
When cases of COVID-19 appeared in the Brazos Valley, Infinity Taekwondo, home of Texas A&M’s Taekwondo team, closed its doors to protect its students. A&M's Taekwondo team had to reschedule their competition to October, leaving many seniors disappointed, said owner Brandan Rhoades.
“There’s going to be long term ramifications from the coronavirus,” Rhoades said. “Right now, we're closed, doing a lot of innovation and changing the future game plan of our business to offset it. How it’s changed it financially, I am not sure yet. The coming months are going to tell us. The biggest fear and concern right now definitely is the uncertainty.”
CrossFit Aggieland closed its doors March 19 after the government mandate, but will continue to pay its employees along with finding new ways to keep its customer base active with online workouts, said Seth McKinney, owner and Class of 2001.
“I would say that the worst part about this is, yeah, it is going on, but working out was giving everybody some sense of an outlet for them mentally, then you add the stress from this coronavirus, then you take away that mental outlet of clarity from working out that was giving a peace of mind,” McKinney said. “It’s a very bad situation both health-wise and economic-wise however you want to weigh them.”
Hoping to receive some revenue, Studio Yoga transitioned to online classes, an approach the business has never tried nor thought they would do, said Brittany Hopper, owner and Class of 2015.
“I do think it’s important that we put our client’s health first,” Hopper said. “I think the scariest part is not knowing how long it’s going to last because you hear some people saying it’s going to die down in a month then you hear other people saying until August. I just don’t see how small businesses are going to make it until August. I think that’s everyone’s fear right now. If it lasts a month great, I think we can recover, but if it lasts more than that, I don’t know.”
With A&M’s transition to online classes, there are fewer students around town, which creates issues even after the government mandate is lifted.
“[Bryan College Station Boxing] really depends on the students to come in and keep it afloat,” Perry said. “Right now, we have well over 120 members, but 70 percent are college kids so there’s a lot of memberships gone now, in the next several months, and probably until next fall.”
Consisting of a consumer base of 60 to 65 percent students, McKinney said he would love to see the students fill his gym as he did his morning workouts, but now they are nowhere to be seen.
“We know that everything around here is built around A&M and if you got 35,000 of the students that aren’t here, that’s a huge customer base that you can’t rely on that you thought you could,” said McKinney.
McKinney said he predicts their typical profit will be halved until the students return, likely in the fall, as he does not see summer classes being rectified in such a short time.
“There are a few students hanging around that either don’t want to go home or can’t go home for whatever reason maybe they have a job, so we’re here for those students,” McKinney said. “There are some industries that will, unfortunately, be much more impacted than we are. The face of local retail will be changed pretty dramatically. For right or wrong, I don’t see how businesses could weather this storm if it stays this way, especially our town.”