Just southwest of Dallas/Fort Worth, Granbury—a lakeside town typically bustling with shoppers crowding its charming downtown—finds its streets quiet at the moment. But residents are finding ways to continue the convivial nature of the small community at home.
Joining legions of distilleries from coast to coast, Sledge Distillery—situated 12 miles south in Tolar—has shifted its production line from making spirits like moonshine to creating hand sanitizer. Distillery owner Susan Sledge began wondering about the possibility of crafting hand sanitizer with the distillery’s alcohol around the time other distilleries were hatching the same plan. She teamed up with Granbury Drug & Compounding to make its Hand Shine Moonshine Hand Sanitizer, giving away some of the supply to local law enforcement officers and selling the rest at lightning speed. “We saw right away it was popular and began upping our production,” Sledge says. “Just finding bottles for packaging became an issue. We were using all the Tupperware and Mason jars we could find, after we ran out of the first supply of bottles.” A local beekeeper directed her to honey containers as a solution. The sanitizer is sold at Granbury Drug (there’s curbside service) and at the distillery. Tours and events at Sledge Distillery are suspended, but patrons can still buy moonshine and sanitizer via drive-thru on Saturdays. “It keeps us busy and it’s brought new business to us from people who didn’t know us before,” Sledge says. “I feel a lot of kindness from people who say, ‘We’re shopping small and supporting local.’”
Meanwhile, boutiques around the courthouse square are missing shoppers popping in and out on weekends. Nevertheless, shop owners keep their businesses going with virtual events like Saturday Girls Night Out shopping parties. Groups of friends gather on Zoom or Skype and shop from home, browsing stores via Facebook pages or websites. Stores participate by posting goods and specials during designated shopping hours. Participants are entered into drawings for $100 gift certificates. The first such virtual effort gave locals a shopping fix and helped business owners recoup some of their lost sales. “It was so fun to see how excited and engaged our merchants were; people were really energized during the virtual shopping event,” says Diane Hedges, who owns D’Vine Wine, a winery and tasting room on the square. “Even our older merchants who’d never done anything on Facebook were making videos and having a great time. And for the shoppers, it was perfect—the weather didn’t matter and you didn’t have to get dressed up to go out.” You can find upcoming online events at visitgranbury.com.
Merchants around the square are also participating in the local teddy bear hunt, joining in the worldwide trend of placing stuffed bears in windows for kids to search for while on car rides or walks with parents. The Hood County News’ special Facebook page, HCN Hood Country Strong, offers ways for residents to connect with one another by posting programs that supply meals for first responders, a look at community volunteers making sure kids who typically get meals at school can still enjoy hot lunches, and light-hearted photos of people working at home with their pets.
“Small-Town Dispatches” is a new series from Texas Highways focused on how COVID-19 is affecting some of our favorite Texas communities, from writers who live there or live close enough to visit often. Read more from this series.