Business closings baffle many
By LPR Staff
Although national headlines scream every day about the impact the so-called “Great Recession” has had, and continues to have on local economies, Lockhart has appeared, at least on the surface, to be relatively untouched by the money troubles plaguing the rest of the nation. Indeed, experts in the area have said repeatedly
that the Lone Star State has been one of the least impacted, in terms of job loss.
The shockwaves may finally be trickling down to Caldwell County, as the community has seen the closure of three local eateries over the span of the last two weeks.
It started with Jack in the Box, which closed suddenly on Sept. 30, shortly after an announcement that the San Diego-based chain planned to close 40 locations in Texas and the Southeast. The corporation did not offer additional details on the closures, except to suggest the closed locations were “under-performing.”
On Oct. 8, Werner’s Restaurant informed employees their doors would be closed for good, effective following an already-scheduled event the next day. On Sunday, workers were clearing furniture and fixtures from the business’s S. Colorado Street location.
At the same time, rumors began to circulate that a smaller, family-owned eatery would close within days.
Estimates from sources familiar with the businesses suggest nearly 50 local jobs may have been lost as the result of the three business closures. However, Lockhart’s Economic Development Director Sandra Mauldin declined to offer confirmation on the rumored numbers.
“The job loss count should come from the businesses,” she said in an email Tuesday afternoon. “I do not feel the department should make a statement as to that number without the permission of the businesses, and we do not have that permission.”
Mauldin went on to say that, despite the business closures and the pressures the national economic downturn has put on local small businesses, there are areas in which Lockhart continues to fare well.
She pointed to a 24-percent increase in sales tax revenue for this month, as measured over the same time last year.
Lockhart Chamber of Commerce President Wayne Bock offered similar sentiments, noting the information he received about the closures suggest that factors other than the economy were at play in each of the decisions.
“Any time you’re working with a corporation atmosphere, they’re going to look at their total numbers when they start struggling,” he said of Jack in the Box. “And it’s hard to say, with a corporation that size, what ‘under-performing’ really means, and what standard they used to measure that.”
For Werner’s, Bock suggested, the decision was more complicated.
“They are going to continue to do their catering, but they’re going to do that from another location,” he said. “I think with them, it came to the point of they were doing two different things, the catering and the storefront, and the catering is going very well. I think they decided they wanted to focus on that, and to put the focus into it they needed to, they closed the storefront.”
He said he’d been told the proprietors of the third restaurant, an elderly couple who started the business when they were well into their 70s, had simply decided it was time to retire.
He, too, noted growth and positive changes within the business community, including the new construction of Five Oaks, the opening of Margarita’s Tortilla Factory and the coming construction of AdviTech in the Lockhart Industrial Park.
The main thing the community at large needs to remember, he said, is that as much as local businesses rise and fall with the national economy, a more important factor is local support.
“We still have businesses here, thriving and doing well,” he said. “And we’ll still continue to grow. I understand that these businesses in such a short time is a hit, but there are still businesses here to support, and it’s up to our local dollars to support them.”
Mauldin reiterated his point.
“Our first line of defense as a community is to Shop Lockhart whenever we can,” she said. “One purchase made locally can rotate up to seven times through our community, but a purchase made outside our community has no [positive] impact on our local economy.”