Road trip? Visitors returning to Fredericksburg, businesses starting to thrive again

Hill Country

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (KXAN) — In Texas towns that rely on tourism, the pandemic put many businesses at risk, so how are they faring a year into the pandemic?

In Fredericksburg, some businesses had to shut down early. Olan Tisdale, who owns Fredericksburg Pecan Company, said the usually thriving city turned into a ghost town shortly after the pandemic hit.

“We closed down because there wasn’t anyone in town,” Tisdale said.

A few weeks later, he opened again as more people started to return to the Hill County.

“We had people come in from Houston or Dallas who would come in and say we have been cooped up for four months and we have to get out in the Hill Country,” Tisdale said.

The visitors have continued, and over spring break, Tisdale was extra busy.

“I keep looking outside,” Tisdale said. “It is 10 in the morning and it is getting busy already.”

The sidewalks in Fredericksburg are crowded once again, and that means money for restaurants and shops in the popular Texas getaway town.

“It is a fun place and a shopping mecca,” said Pam Richardson, who was visiting from Colorado. “Some of the things have lifted. It is a little looser here than it is in Colorado.”

Penny McBride with the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce says third and fourth quarter numbers from 2020 showed many businesses were doing just fine, and some were doing even better than before the pandemic started.

“A year ago today I was very scared,” McBride said. “Our town was essentially shut down and we are so dependent on it being a tourism economy that was a very frightening time.”

Over spring break visitors flooded the shops and restaurants. Some wearing masks, others without, as Fredericksburg allows the business to choose how they will enforce restrictions.

“It looked very much like a pre-pandemic spring break for us,” McBride said.

She expects the business to continue as more people become vaccinated and start to venture out.

“Aside from the week we lost from the ice storm, our business has been exceptionally good,” McBride said.

Even online sales are up for some businesses.

“We took all these iconic Fredericksburg products that my friends supply put them in a box and sell them via ecommerce,” said Dave Jobe, owner of Fredericksburg’s Finest, which he started last year after the pandemic impacted many local businesses.

As more people show up in person to shop they are also continuing to shop online as well.

“We are going to be really focusing on corporate gift boxes, Fredericksburg Finest for corporate clients to be able to give hundreds of boxes of peaches to their customers,” Jobe said.

The chamber says out of their roughly 900 members, 77% said they planned to increase capacity, with about 56% saying they would continue to require masks.

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