Waco businesses adapt to keep doors open and customers safe

Hey Sugar's COVID-19 guidelines shown throughout the store. Christina Cannady | Photographer

By Brennen Dimarzo | Reporter

Over the past year, local businesses have learned how to adjust to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic while still keeping their customers safe. Many were forced to think of innovative ways to adapt their business model just to keep their doors open.

Nexus Gaming, a local gaming cafe, had to find new ways of doing business, because, in the past, customers were able to rent gear such as mics, headsets and keyboards to play with.

“We practice social distancing, we sell masks and we have disinfectant at every station that people have to reuse equipment,” Assistant Manager John Solis said. “Since we have to sanitize the equipment, we try to keep only our stuff in circulation.”

Other local businesses in Waco, such as Hey Sugar and Barefoot, rely on the customer actively touching the products that are available at the store.

“Every closing shift we sanitize all equipment, the door, really anything that people can touch,” Daylo Rangeo, sales associate at Hey Sugar, said. “We have had sanitizer for customers, and gloves if they want them.”

Several stores have been able to keep certain aspects of their store open due to the diligence of the workers making sure that everything is being sanitized.

“We clean throughout the entire shift and we keep sanitizers by the door. We Clorox wipe the counters and the pin pads after every transaction,” Robyn Gartner, sales associate at Barefoot, said. “We have kept the dressing room open, but they have to ask us to use it, and we clean it after every visit.”

While many of these storefronts hope 2021 will be better in terms of sales, there are still those who are cautious heading into the new year.

“I think 2021 will be the same. It’s not about the vaccine, it is about the people taking precautions,” Rangeo said.

Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, one Baylor student feels that businesses in Waco have continued to make them feel safe.

“I have been to most, if not all of the coffee shops, and I feel like they have been doing a pretty good job,” Marshall freshman Elizabeth Anne Palmer said. “There is a lot of signage and they do a good job of letting you know what tables are open. Being around people my age has also made me more comfortable, especially since I trust the people I go out with.”