Downtown businesses seek support from consumers and city

BROWNSVILLE — The stories of downtown business owners aren’t all the same, but the goals to keep their doors open as best as they can is the same.

“It’s crazy,” said female bodybuilder Sadie Cermeno while showing the inventory at her family’s sporting goods store, El Toro.

Cermeno’s family has been hard hit by COVID-19, with the passing of her aunt and with the positive results from her grandparents.

Her focus right now is helping her parents turn their in-person store into an online driven venture.

“We’re going up against Amazon and eBay and all of that but then we have our loyal customers,” explained Cermeno as in between online sales.

The fitness fanatic channeled her can-do attitude from the bodybuilding world and focused on Instagram, Facebook, and El Toro’s website.

Further into downtown is a vegan restaurant called Veggie Del Sol. The plant-based eatery is the dream of Daniel Flores and Alejandro Alarcon.

The duo have a second location under construction on South Padre Island while their current dining area in Brownsville is closed.

The vegan comfort food spot has taken advantage of help from the city and free parking spots for curbside orders.

“That really helped us out a lot with the situation,” said Alarcon.

The goal of many elected officials in Brownsville is to have a 24-hour economy; daytime shopping, nighttime eating, and drinking.

Michael Limas, a financial adviser and co-owner of Las Ramblas has been closed since the start of the pandemic.

“We feel that we can stretch it out for an extended period of time but at the same token we’re very concerned for our staff they have been furloughed since the inception.”

The three business owners have reached out for help through city services with grant writing, PPP loans, and more.

The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation’s Josh Mejia tells CBS4/LOCAL 23 News that more businesses need to reach out and ask for help if they’re struggling.

“We have a plethora of partners such as the University Of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Small Business Administration, U.S. Economic Development Administration and the City Of Brownsville, that are actively looking for to help out these folks,” Mejia said.  

BCIC helps business owners in a variety of ways including finances, loans, and grant money.

“Our offices are still open. We can go ahead and learn a little bit more about you so we can design something that is tailor specifically for your needs.”

It’s going to take an all hands-on deck approach to save the downtown area, the business owners hope consumers will shop locally.


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