CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Downtown Corpus Christi has made huge strides in just the last five years as its continue to make the area a place for tourists and locals to visit.
From hosting the annual St. Patrick's Day festival to concerts at many of the area's bars and restaurants, Downtown has become quite the scene.
COVID-19, however, shut the scene down, which has created anxiety for many owners of retail and restaurants.
"I didn't want to see my business fall or have to close my doors permanently," said 20/20 Vintage owner Monica Ellison.
The owners said their businesses were hanging on by a thread. People were afraid to leave their homes and many of the places Downtown, which rely heavily on foot traffic, saw none.
The Downtown Management District of Corpus Christi, has stepped up to the plate, creating initiatives to keep the downtown businesses afloat.
"Our inspiration was to encourage people to continue coming Downtown and support the restaurants," said DMD Communication and Events Manager Jordan Michael.
The "Support Local" campaign has been going since the start of the pandemic. Its purpose is simple: getting Corpus Christi residents to support homegrown businesses, especially in the Downtown area.
Its newest initiative is the "Curbside Champ" Challenge.
"We love posting pictures of our food, so everyone takes pictures of their curbside order and post it on social media using #curbsidechampCC," Michael said. "Do this five times and you get a free T-shirt."
An Instagram post or a T-shirt may not seem like much to the average person, but for the business owners, the social media activity has provided a massive boost.
"Social platforms have increased tremendously because of the hashtag 'shop local,' " Ellison said.
The continuing efforts of the DMD have kept businesses in the fight during the darkest time in recent years.
"We have always felt like they have been a huge support-system," said Lucy's Snackbar's Justin Gainan. "They are more than just a system for the city — they really are boots on the ground for us."
Downtown looks far different now than it did five to six months ago. Bars remain closed and restaurants sit at 50 percent capacity.
There is no end in sight for now, but the DMD's efforts and campaigns are making the challenge a little easier.
"Downtown's going to rebound," Michael said. "Hopefully sooner, rather than later, we are able to get back to normal."