AUSTIN (KXAN) — Consistently hot temperatures help boost business at Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs in central Austin, where the workers serve up a dome of shaved ice topped with colorful flavor mixes and add soft serve in the middle.
Claire Jones and her nine-year-old daughter Hazel sat on the Casey’s front porch on a Tuesday afternoon to enjoy their snowballs after getting haircuts nearby.
“Getting ready for school, taking care of business. It was so hot, so we decided to stop by,” Jones said.
Steps from where they sat is a colorful mural that reads, “A Cupful of Happiness.” That’s what co-owner Mars Chapman said Casey’s has provided since the original owners opened the doors in 1996.
“You’re making people cool. When it’s hot, you’re providing a sweet treat,” Chapman said. “For me, it’s a very soul-enriching, very satisfying experience to be at our window because people are happy.”
Chapman’s parents bought the business in 2010. He said the shop is still rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic. Foot traffic remains down 20% since 2019 levels, despite heat records set this summer.
“Small businesses like Casey’s Snowballs, or any other place that’s important to you in the city, they need your business,” Chapman said. “Whatever your means are to go out and support them, however often you can, support them and spread the love because we’re all still recovering, and we’re all still trying to make it. Literally every single sale helps.”
Chapman spoke to KXAN about the importance of supporting local small businesses on the same day that iconic costume shop Lucy in Disguise announced it would close its South Congress storefront by the end of the year. He said it’s sad to see these kinds of independent establishments close because it changes the character of Austin, which is why he brings up the importance of supporting these businesses as much as people can.
“Without them, the city just starts looking like any other big metropolis in this country,” Chapman said. “It loses its pizzazz; it loses its patina, its allure, and that’s sad.”
He said Casey’s Snowballs is fortunate to own the property where its shop is located, which sets it apart from other establishments now facing rising commercial rental prices. Regardless, though, Chapman said it’s not cheap to keep a business open in Austin due to the higher cost of living and what it takes to retain and support employees.
“Just doing the sort of forecasting means that all small businesses are going to be facing these higher costs of labor, higher cost of goods,” Chapman said. “That means the better that their business can be now — in terms of what’s money in the bank, but also on paper, if they need lending, that’s important. That can be what allows the business to keep the lights on and to stay open or to unfortunately join the many, many places that have closed recently.”
This story is part of a KXAN series highlighting Central Texas activities — you can see our full list on our “Central Texas Things to Do” page. Do you have an idea of something we should profile? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.