LUBBOCK, Texas — On Thursday evening, a Facebook post raised a timely discussion. Titled ‘Let Lubbock Open,’ Chanda Allen, the author, created a post, asking Mayor Dan Pope, as well as city council, to allow small business owners to open their doors ‘safely and responsibly.’
Allen, a business owner of two restaurants, said she did so because she feels there needs to be a level playing field between small business owners and big box stores.
“Our small business owners right now are being unfairly disadvantaged,” Allen said.
Allen said many of the big box stores that are still open sell some of the same products people can find at local stores, and that it’s their right to run a business as they would like. Allen said she also supports stores who would choose to remain closed, so long as the business owner makes the decision.
“We are just asking the mayor and the city council to please look at some guidelines. Consult medical staff who can let our businesses open again,” Allen said.
Allen said she understands concerns over health, but believes local businesses are the heart of the city. She added small businesses can also do a better job about making sure social distancing and proper precautions are taken since the spaces tend to be smaller.
Also tagged in the ‘Let Lubbock Open’ post, Benny Jackson, owner of Stems by Benny Jackson. The gift shop has been open for a year and a half.
“It’s our livelihood,” Jackson said. “It’s how we make our living.”
Jackson said he has moved to online retail, but this can be a challenge of its own. He said he has seen a drop in sales and has had to lay a few employees off. He said once they are able to open again, he said he will rehire those employees. He also said he is appreciative of his customers who have been greatly supportive.
“We’re fighting it, and we’re staying in there and we’re going to get through it on the other side,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he is not trying to put money over people’s lives, but instead wants to see fairness. He said he has submitted a letter to Lubbock City Council, as have other business owners.
“We need to flatten the playing ground and it could all be a little fair and a little more even for us that struggle anyway,” Jackson said.
City Councilwoman Latrelle Joy of District 6 said she agrees with small businesses. She said she is in favor of imposing some sort of guidelines.
“It’s not equitable,” she said of big box stores being open while small stores cannot.
Joy said two strategies could include phasing in small businesses to reopen, or prohibiting big box stores from selling non-essential items. She also suggested small businesses could impose rules such as limiting the amount of people inside a store, or requiring people wear face masks.
“If we can work together, maybe we can find a compromise,” Joy said.
Mayor Dan Pope said he wants to see businesses back open as well, however, is following the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott. As a result, he is not sure how much can change.
Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order, closing non-essential businesses is effective until April 30.
“We will start talking about what recovery looks like for us. Today, the governor and the president put out a sort of recovery task force,” Pope said.
In an interview with EverythingLubbock.com, Governor Greg Abbott said the reopening of businesses should be done the right way, and has been discussing the matter with White House Officials.
“We need to be smart about this because we have to do it in a way that does not allow the coronavirus to begin to expand again,” Abbott said.
Pope said re-opening businesses will be a topic of discussion in their next work session on Tuesday.