HOUSTON — Vendors at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are anxious to see the crowds return this year.
Although KHOU 11 News was told several vendors went out of business during the pandemic, most of them are coming back.
The Rodeo has been described as the first domino to fall when COVID-19 arrived in Houston two years ago.
With only a few hours' notice, vendors were told they’d need to pack their things and leave. March 11, 2020, is a day many of them would like to forget.
“We’ve got apartments rented for the whole month. Product on hand made up,” said David Sims with the Yoakum Packing Company on March 11, 2020. “Yeah, we’re going to lose money, a lot of people are going to lose money.”
Fast forward to this week, and crews with the Yoakum Packing Company are back and are in a rush to get ready.
The meat business’ president, Glen Kusak, said nobody saw COVID coming two years ago.
“We were full to the hilt with inventory,” Kusak said. “It totally caught us off guard.”
Kusak said not everyone made it back.
“Some of the vendors didn’t survive through the pandemic,” Kusak said. “Luckily, we’ve been able to maintain.”
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo accounts for approximately 20% of the packing company’s annual business. They’ve been there for every Rodeo season since 1964.
Crystal Cummings' jewelry booth had become a fixture at the Rodeo. She had made every season for more than a decade when it was canceled.
“When it shut down, we had an obscene amount of inventory still left in both of our trailers outside,” Cummings said.
She said it took five months to sell what would have taken her 11 days to sell at HLSR. Her business, Accessorize in Style, survived, though. During the pandemic, Cummings focused on selling her Western jewelry online. Nonetheless, she knew she had to come back.
“It is a rather large portion of our yearly income,” Cummings said.
She said business was exceptional at last season’s Nutcracker Market and she’s hoping Houston will repeat itself at the rodeo over the next couple of weeks.
“We’re ready,” Cummings said. “We’re excited.”