UPDATE: Rhino Coffee and Appli-K’s Embroidery and Gifts at the Lofts at 624, 624 Texas Street, were finally able to reopen today (Thursday, Feb. 25) after ten days without water. Bon Asian Cafe in the Beck Building at 400 Travis St. is still closed due to damages sustained because of a burst pipe. Other restaurants that have managed to open are having to work harder and spend more on bottled water to safely comply with the City of Shreveport’s Boil Water Advisory (which the city hopes will be lifted this weekend).
Businesses that were already suffered from occupancy restrictions, shutdowns and lowered revenue in 2020 are now hit with a one-two punch of 7+ days of snow and ice-related shutdowns. These businesses need our support more than ever as they do their best to survive.
Downtown is home to 27 eateries that feature a variety of food from Asian to Cajun, burgers to breakfast and everything in between. The one thing they all have in common is that they are locally-owned, locally-managed, and locally-staffed. Many of them are family owned- think of Fertitta’s Deli at 1124 Fairfield, home to the Fertitta and McCall families since the 1920s, and more recently, T’s Comfort Food at 830 Louisiana Ave., run by Teketia Pipkins and members of her immediate family.
This is the story of downtown stores, too. Phoebe Kimble purchased Lena’s Shoes at 501 Milam several years ago and has added a line of fine men’s shoes and women’s and men’s accessories to the mix. Phoebe is the wife of Pastor Bernard Kimble of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Husband/wife team Katy and Chris Rhodes own Appli-K’s Embroidery and Gifts in the Lofts at 624, 624 Texas. Local art promoter and creator of the Louisiana Fashion Prize, Katy Larsen, owns and manages the unique The Agora Borealis art marketplace at 421 Lake Street. Katy’s shop helps support dozens of local artists and creatives by selling their works and hosting events and exhibits, and gives local fashion designers the opportunity to shine at her yearly fashion events. C&C Mercantile and Lighting also provides an outlet for local art, and houses local artists in ArtiFact, a location for both creating and selling paintings, journals, and other ‘needful’ things. Owners Derek and Lauren Ross Simmons have also created a series of Texas Avenue market events aimed at bringing life and retail back to an area that has lost both over the past 20 years.
All of these businesses, plus the others listed in the links above, need your help now more than ever. After the mandatory closures and ongoing occupancy restrictions because of Covid-19, businesses are already in a weakened position and five more days of being shut down has not helped. Realize that many businesses are barely hanging on right now. How can we help? Thank you for asking. The absolute best way is to spend money at them. Go by this coming week when the roads are better and buy a meal or two and a couple to go. Invite your friends to lunch there. Post your meal on Facebook and encourage others to go. (If you don’t feel safe going in person, know that many of these restaurants have delivery services and curbside pickup). Go by the retail shops and get a head start on next year’s Christmas presents, get a birthday gift for a friend, a new pair of spring shoes. Visit Robinson Film Center and our other venues like artspace, Sci-Port Discovery Center and the Shreveport Aquarium and encourage others to, as well. Share updates from them on your social media, encourage friends to check them out.
We love our small local businesses. Paraphrasing Smokey Bear, ‘Only We Can Prevent Small Local Businesses from Closing.’ Let’s do our part!