Small Business Landscape Shifts in Waco, Texas: Closures and Challenges

by: Debrah Wright

Waco, Texas, known for its vibrant community and historic charm, has recently experienced a wave of small businesses closing their doors, leaving locals saddened and concerned about the economic impact on the city. It’s disheartening to witness these closures, prompting a crucial moment of reflection to explore the closures of iconic establishments—Sironia, Bicycle World, Fuzzy’s and O-I—and delve into the broader implications for the local business landscape. This serves as a reminder that the success of our small businesses hinges on the support of our community.

Sironia: A 20-Year Legacy Comes to an End

After more than two decades of serving the Waco community, Sironia, a beloved local boutique, recently announced its closure. This charming store, known for its unique gifts, home decor, and boutique clothing, had become a staple for residents and visitors alike.

Sironia’s closure raises questions about the challenges small businesses face in the ever-evolving retail landscape. Factors such as increased online shopping, rising operating costs, and changing consumer preferences contribute to the struggles many local businesses encounter.

Bicycle World’s Abrupt Exit from Downtown Waco

In a surprising turn of events, Bicycle World, a longstanding fixture in downtown Waco, closed its doors abruptly. This departure left cycling enthusiasts and locals puzzled, as the shop had been a go-to destination for bike sales, repairs, and community events.

The sudden closure of Bicycle World highlights the unpredictable nature of the business environment. Economic downturns, unforeseen challenges, or shifts in consumer behavior can force businesses to make tough decisions quickly. It also underscores the importance of adaptability and resilience for small businesses in today’s dynamic market.

Mike Copeland’s Insights: Fuzzy’s Future and O-I Closure Fallout

Mike Copeland’s recent column sheds light on various business developments in Waco, including the closure of O-I Glass, one of the most prominent glass bottle manufacturers around the globe, is shutting down its Waco facility after 79 years of service. This impending closure caused a lay off of an approximate 300 employees. Owens-Illinois Glass, a global glass bottle manufacturing leader, is closing its Waco facility. Copeland explores the potential ripple effects of O-I’s closure on the local economy, touching on issues such as job loss and the impact on nearby businesses.

This article also shares that Both Waco-area Fuzzy’s Taco Shop restaurants, including the location in Downtown and Hewitt Drive have closed. Both area locations have now closed, including the Baylor student frequented on University Parks Drive that often seemed so lively, with patrons spilling onto the patio.

The interconnectedness of local businesses becomes apparent in the wake of closures like Fuzzy’s and now Bicycle World. Small businesses often rely on each other for support and foot traffic, creating a delicate ecosystem. Understanding and addressing the challenges faced by individual businesses can be crucial in preserving the overall health of the local economy.

Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities

While the closures of Sironia, Bicycle World, Fuzzy’s and O-I may paint a challenging picture for Waco’s small business community, it’s essential to recognize the opportunities for growth and revitalization. Initiatives such as community support, strategic partnerships, and adapting to changing consumer preferences can play a vital role in fostering a resilient local business landscape.

Small businesses are the heartbeat of our community, contributing directly to our local economy. They are more than just storefronts; they are the livelihoods of the people they employ and the families they sustain. It becomes particularly challenging when a multitude of factors stack against our small business owners.

As Waco navigates these shifts, community members, local leaders, and business owners must collaborate to address the underlying issues and work towards creating an environment where small businesses can thrive. The stories serve as reminders of the resilience required to weather the storms of the business world, ultimately shaping the future of Waco’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Let’s challenge the narrative and be the change we want to see in Waco. Small businesses are the backbone of our community, giving back in numerous ways. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to rally behind our small business leaders. Be the Waco you envision, and let’s show our support.

Tell me … who doesn’t know Alfred Solano?

Special from

By Linda Crawford

You know those people who seem to know everybody, right? Alfred Solano is one of those people.

You have a fantastic idea and you want to introduce it to key people who can make it happen. Call Alfred Solano.

Alfred Solano speaks during Prosper Waco’s recent Waco Blueprint for Financial Empowerment meeting.

You need to meet people who can help you finish up a major project. No problem. Call Alfred Solano.

You simply want to meet certain leaders in the community, but you have no idea where to start. You guessed it. Call Alfred Solano.

Even if you need a good restaurant recommendation, just call Alfred Solano.

And think about it. How could he now know everybody? It seems that no organization is too large or too small for him to dedicate his time. His community activities are numerous and exceptionally diverse, like serving as chairman of the boards of Prosper Waco and Waco Family Medicine.

Ferrell Foster, who is acting executive director of Act Locally Waco and senior specialist for care & communication with Prosper Waco, met Solano through his service on the Prosper Waco Board of Directors.

“Later,” explained Foster, “another local Hispanic leader invited me to a monthly luncheon at the Hispanic Chamber. Alfred called later to thank me for coming to the luncheon and said I was always welcome. As a White male in a new place, it meant a lot to me to be welcomed into a relationship with my Hispanic neighbors, who are so important to the life and vitality of Waco. Alfred is that kind of man; he is always drawing people into purposeful relationships with one another.”

Others with Prosper Waco have similar things to say about Solano. Dexter Hall, chief of staff and senior content specialist for financial security with Prosper Waco, comes in contact with a lot of people. He knows those who are “for you,” and he knows those “who are not.” He calls Solano “selfless in his giving.”

Hall’s co-worker agrees. “Alfred is an engaging and caring leader in our community who thinks of others each and every day,” added Hermann Pereira, chief program officer at Prosper Waco.

“He is dedicated to growing and investing the next batch of leaders in our community. Alfred is passionate about equity in our community and is someone who ‘walks the walk’ in every interaction he has.”

If you tried to figure out Solano’s main interests, that would be nearly impossible. He’s like the wind; he is everywhere. Kim Patterson, executive director of McLennan Community College Foundation and Institutional Advancement, used some of the exact words in her description of Solano. He loves pushing education, se he is on the board of the MCC Foundation.

“Alfred is a connector, always focusing on others and how he can help bring our community together. We often say, ‘That guy is everywhere!’ and it’s true; he is very intentional about that. He inspires me to strive to do more and be even more engaged in our hometown.”

Solano was raised in Waco and is a graduate of Texas State Technical College. After 35 years in business, he is now president and CEO of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Waco, a role he has held for three years. In the time under this leadership, the CTHCC has been recognized as the Small Chamber of the Year 2019 by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers.

For Solano, serving on the CTHCC board for many years opened doors to many opportunities, shaping his “passion for engaging businesses with the non-profit sector,” says Solano.

He’s a board member of several other organizations, too — Hillcrest Health System, which is totally different from StartUp Waco, where he is also on the board. If you want to keep up with local happenings in Waco, call Solano. He’s a board member with Act Locally Waco, KWBU, and Heart of Texas Economic Development District. I am pretty sure the list goes on.

But if you just need a friend, someone to talk to, you can also call Solano. He’ll serve in that role, as well. We think, however, that Hall says it best.

“In a world where everyone is striving to be Number 1 and on the “A” team, Alfred Solano is a devout communitarian giver that pushes and pulls everyone forward . . . [exemplifying] that to be humane is to be a great human being.”

Alfred and his wife, Rachel, have been married for 13 years and are very proud of Alfred’s daughter, Elena Solano, a psychotherapist in Austin.

Linda Crawford, owner of The Anchor News, is an English professor at McLennan Community College, a motivational speaker, and author of the book, God, Destiny and a Glass of Wine (available on Amazon).

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

TeAnnah Shields offers styles to go

Special from The Anchor News

By Linda Crawford

Thirty-year-old businesswoman TeAnnah Shields says her business success derives from her consistency, professionalism, and quality of work.

TeAnnah Shields

“I have been braiding about 19 years,” said Shields, owner of The BeauTee Room, 121 N. Hewitt Dr., Suite B, in Hewitt. That’s half of her life. Eleven years old? Twelve? Talk about a lifetime of experience! That would be TeAnnah!

“As a child, I loved doing my sisters’ hair and babysitting because I got to play in the children’s hair.”

At that time, doing hair was a hobby for Shields. While many children played with dolls and two dishes, she played with hair. “Money was not an incentive for me. I simply and genuinely enjoyed doing hair.”

“It was always so satisfying,” she explained. During Shields’s teenage years, her mom would allow friends from school and a few adults to come over to get their hair braided.

“Imagine being a 13-year-old child having an adult client come from McGregor to Waco to get her hair braided,” laughed Shields.

Through the years, it became apparent that Shields had a gift, but wanting the best for her, teachers and family members were adamant about a career that included college.

“I know they wanted the best for me, and I did too. I honestly did not see myself as a full-time braider.”

Thus, such a business or career was never part of her plan. After she graduated from high school, of course, she attended college. Her education prepared her to become a dental assistant, but after working in this field for three years, she was laid off.

It was at that time that Shields used her God-given talent to make ends meet. Yes, God has a way of leading us right to his plan. Still, even in those trying times, it never occurred to her that God was positioning her to start a full-time business, perhaps for life. The old adage says, “The third time is a charm.” Shields worked a few other jobs but always found herself returning to her old love — braiding.

“It was the third time but this time, it stuck, explained Shields.

“I became overwhelmed with working a full-time job, braiding, and being a parent to my three chidlren. I soon stepped out on faith and became a full-time braider and later, a salon owner.”

According to Shields, when people come to her salon, “they enjoy the styles, vibes, and good energy there. The BeauTee Room is clean, fresh, and well-equipped to make customers come back again and again. After four years of braiding fulltime, Shields has a reputation of being the best. Clients book at least 30 days in advance and come from as far as two hours away.

Shields is now thinking about opening a second location with technicians whom she has trained to mock her work. Hours of operation vary and are by appointment only.

Prices range from simple styles like two braids for $45 to box braids for up to $300.

For more information or to book an appointment, call (254) 265-0433.

Linda Crawford, owner of The Anchor News, is an English professor at McLennan Community College, a motivational speaker, and author of the book, God, Destiny and a Glass of Wine (available on Amazon).

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

This article was originally published in the March 2021 issue of The Anchor NewsThe Anchor News is a free, monthly publication of Crawford Publishing. The Anchor News is dedicated to serving the community and surrounding area, focusing on positive news and accomplishments of minorities.  For more information about The Anchor News including how to subscribe or where to pick up a copy, please visit The Anchor News website.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Little brown girls can now dream their biggest dreams

Special from The Anchor News

By Linda Davis

As a child I was fascinated with dance. I enjoyed watching anything on TV that involved twirling and flipping, such as figure skating, gymnastics, tap dancing, and, of course, music videos.

Linda Davis

By far, “Fame,” a 1980s popular television show starring Debbie Allen as an inner-city dance instructor, was my favorite evening show. Can you picture me, as a 10-year-old plump, brown-skin girl with pigtails dangling, dressed in tights with leg warmers, dancing around the living room with dreams of being cast in the show’s next season?

Unfortunately, 40 years ago many Black girls had dreams that were never fulfilled because there were not many images of African American athletes showcased in the media. The idea didn’t have parental support.

It’s very important for children to be exposed to positive images that raise their curiosity and spark their interest, which foster dreams leadings to goals and success. Sometimes, it’s hard for one to have a dream he/she has never seen demonstrated through the actions of others.

Today, things are looking up! We have many African American women with various high-ranking occupations and careers portrayed in the media for the whole world to see. Madame Vice President Kamala Harris! Need I say more?

Our young children can dream their biggest dream. Former President Barrack Obama and Vice President Harris have raised the bar to the highest level. How great it is to be an African American child during this time. The sky is the limit. There are no restrictions or limitations placed on their desire to reach their full potential.

Many once viewed African American women as the laser gender of minorities. However, women like Michelle Obama (author, lawyer, and the first Black First Lade of the United States); Oprah Winfrey (journalist and talk show host); and Stacie Abrams (influencer and political guru), just to name a few, are famous Black women who have put that lie to rest.

With the hit TV shows, “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” Shonda Rhimes, producer, screenwriter, and author, has stepped into the limelight along with athletes such as Gabby Douglas, a well-known Olympic gymnast, and Misty Copeland, a world-know ballerina.

Do you have a daughter who has big dreams? Dream the dream with her. Don’t let it die! As parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends, it’s up to us to help our little brown girl achieve their dreams.

Linda Davis, owner of Pampered Babies, is a caregiver with over two decades of childcare experience. Pampered Babies nursery is a registered home with Texas DHS, 2705 Windsor Ave., in the historic North Waco neighborhood of Dean Highland.

This article was originally published in the February 2021 issue of The Anchor NewsThe Anchor News is a free, monthly publication of Crawford Publishing. The Anchor News is dedicated to serving the community and surrounding area, focusing on positive news and accomplishments of minorities.  For more information about The Anchor News including how to subscribe or where to pick up a copy, please visit The Anchor News website.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Honoring our veterans: a different perspective

By Robert J. Rush, Sr.

Robert J. Rush, Sr.

My brother, Frank, recently sent me a link to an article about a history making event at the navy.  The article is entitled “A Military 1st: A Supercarrier Is Named After An African American Sailor.” He correctly thought I would particularly be interested as a retired sailor.  He was more than correct.

The article goes on to explain that the event was particularly amazing because super carriers are normally named after U. S. presidents, not enlisted sailors, and especially not enlisted ‘Black’ sailors.  Well, you should be proud to know that according to the article, a supercarrier now on the drawing boards will be christened the USS Doris Miller, after our own Doris Miller from Waco, Texas.  That is an awesome honor.  

After reading the article, I thanked Frank and decided to expound on the story some, providing a brief historical update on Blacks in the navy since the days of the heroic actions of Doris Miller.  I would like to share that with you.

As covered in the article, the heroic actions of Doris Miller in the heat of battle demonstrated to many that Blacks could do more in service to our country that just be messmen or stewards, who took care of naval officers by laying out their clothes, shining their shoes and serving their meals.  That’s almost all we were allowed to do at the time in 1941.  Even touching the guns and firing them as Doris Miller did was against the regulations at that time.  However, his actions caused many senior military and non-military leaders to rethink how Blacks were being used in the navy.  The impact of what he had done started the navy to training Black sailors for other rates/jobs such as gunner’s mate, radioman and radar operator.   It even started them to think about the idea of having a Black naval officer.

Projecting the story a little forward in history, the navy decided to give the idea of making Black officers a try.  First the navy experimented in 1944 by selecting 16 enlisted Blacks to be secluded and trained to become naval officers.  This ultimately led to the “Golden 13,” the first group of Black naval officers (12 commissioned officers and 1 Warrant Officer).  Seems the navy just arbitrarily chose 13 of the 16 though all of them excelled and passed all of the tests.  One claim was that by doing so, it kept the commissioning percentage in line with the other commissioning sources.

Later, in 1945, the esteemed Naval Academy admitted six Blacks into its halls as midshipmen, including Wesley Brown.  The five men who came before Brown as Midshipmen were chased out of the academy altogether.  (No reason was given in the source articles).  So, Brown was the first to make it to graduation/commissioning in 1949.  From there he forged a successful 25-year naval career, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander (O-4).

Fast forward again and the navy tried another experiment.  They experimented with commissioning Black officers into the navy through a traditional Historically Black College or University (HBCU).  They tried this in 1968, choosing Prairie View A&M as that HBCU, out of three HBCUs that were being considered.  That’s how PV got it’s NROTC unit, of which I (from Waco, TX) became an original member in 1968, my freshman year there.  

To complete the unit, in addition to our freshman class, they allowed some upper-class army ROTC students to switch over to the NROTC.  The first class of the PV NROTC graduated and received their commission in 1970.  There were 13 of them.  They chose to revive the moniker, the Golden 13.  That class set records for performance during their time in service, yielding 6 or 7 O-6 and above officers (i.e., naval Captains and Admirals) out of that class.  This was and remains today to be an unprecedented percentage for the whole navy’s commissioning sources, including the Naval Academy.

My class graduated in 1972 as the first, full 4-year class from the historic unit.  After 20 years of active service, I retired in 1992 as a Lieutenant Commander (O-4).  We all celebrated the unit’s history back in 2018 at the 50th Anniversary ceremony of the PV NROTC unit.  Johnitha and Rashaad supported me by attending the event with me.  They got the opportunity to see and hear about the proud history of our unit.  They also got to meet my best friend from my active days in the navy, CWO4 Dean Johnson, who has since gone to be with our Lord and Maker.  As an aside, some others of you may remember meeting Dean.  He and his wife Karen came to Waco to support me at Mary’s funeral.  

How about that for fitting the Doris Miller story into an even larger story with even more personal and Waco relevance?  Coincidental to us, especially considering I never planned to have anything to do with the military.  Not coincidental to God, who has blessed me all along the way and continues to do so each and every day.

This article was originally published in the October 2020 issue of The Anchor NewsThe Anchor News is a free, monthly publication of Crawford Publishing.  The Anchor News is dedicated to serving the community and surrounding area, focusing on positive news and accomplishments of minorities.  For more information about The Anchor News including how to subscribe or where to pick up a copy, please visit The Anchor News website.

Plan to Vote, Says the NAACP

By Linda Jann Lewis, Waco NAACP Political Engagement Chairwoman

With so much turmoil, misinformation, and downright dishonesty surrounding the 2020 electoral process, the Waco NAACP is encouraging voters to develop a plan to vote.  “The strategies that are being employed in 2020 are the same ones that have been deployed against African-American voters since the Jim Crow era,” declared Waco NAACP president Dr. Peaches Henry.  “Nevertheless,” Henry insisted, “African Americans shall do what we have always done in the face of attempts to suppress and deny our right to vote.  We shall vote—by any means necessary!”  That’s why the NAACP is urging African Americans to make a plan to vote.

First, get registered.  Pick up a voter registration card at the post office or at the Elections Office.  The last day to register to vote is Monday, October 5.  Call 254-757-5043 to check that you are registered.  Then plan to vote.

Plan A: Vote by Mail

  • The Elections Office will start sending mail ballots to voters September 18.
  • Mail-in ballots can be returned to the Elections Office at 214 N. Fourth St.
  • Call 254-757-5043 and someone will come to the curb.  Bring ID.

 If you are eligible to vote by mail which is the same thing as voting absentee, request a vote-by-mail/absentee ballot application immediately.  The United States Postal Service is already seeing slower and delayed mail delivery.  The way to combat such delays, says Waco NAACP Political Engagement chairwoman Linda Jann Lewis, is to request a vote-by-mail/absentee application for November’s election now and once it arrives complete and return it.  You may return it by mail or deliver it to the Elections Office.  Note:  If you change your mind and want to vote in person, you are free to do so.  You do not have to have the ballot with you.

Those who are eligible to request a vote-by-mail application and vote absentee include: voters who are 65 years of age or older by Election Day, voters who will be absent from the county during early voting and on Election Day, voters confined in jail but not convicted, and voters who are disabled.  Concerning voters who are disabled, Chapter 82 of the Election Code says if a voter has a sickness or a physical condition that is likely to do harm to her health if she votes in person, then she is entitled to vote absentee.

In May, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that having underlying conditions that make a person vulnerable to COVID-19 could be considered a factor as part of a voter’s medical situation. The court left it up to voters to determine if they meet the election code’s definition of disability.  The Texas Supreme Court also ruled that voters make their own individual decisions about whether they have a physical condition such as the COVID-19 underlying conditions listed by the Centers for Disease Control.

The Supreme Court also held that election clerks have a ministerial duty to accept a voter’s request for an absentee ballot, and they have no discretion to question, challenge, or deny a voter’s request to vote by mail because of the disability that is the basis of their concern.   Speaking to the Waco Tribune, McLennan County Elections Administrator Kathy Van Wolfe said no one will track how many voters claim a disability out of fear of coronavirus exposure.

Plan B:  Vote During the Early Voting Period

  • Early Voting Dates:  October 13-October 30, 2020
  • TO VOTE CURBSIDE CALL 254-757-5043.

If you prefer to vote in person, vote during the early voting period when lines will be shorter or nonexistent and social distancing will be easier.  You may vote in person even if you requested and received a vote-by-mail/absentee ballot.  Parents:  Make sure that your child who is away at college requests a vote-by-mail/absentee application.  And you should certainly vote in person if you have not received your vote-by-mail/absentee ballot.  During the early voting period, five vote centers will be available.  Voters may vote at any vote center in the county no matter where they live in the county.  Curbside voting is available if you are physically unable to enter the vote center without personal assistance or the likelihood of injuring your health.  If you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, consider curbside voting.  To get curbside assistance send a companion in to the vote center to alert the election judge or call 254-757-5043.

To maintain social distancing protocols, the NAACP will lead two Souls to the Polls caravans on Sunday, October 18 and Sunday, October 25 at 2PM.  Caravans will start in church parking lots and voters will wait in their cars to keep crowding down.

Plan C:  Vote on Election Day

  • Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020 from 7AM-7PM.
  • If you are in line to vote by 7PM on Election Day, you must be allowed to vote.
  • TO VOTE CURBSIDE CALL 254-757-5043.

Vote in person on November 3, Election Day.  Identify three vote centers and put their addresses in your phone.  The Elections Office will not serve as a vote center on Election Day.  There will be 34 vote centers available on Election Day.  Some of them are Bellmead Civic Center, Carver Park Baptist Church, Dewey Community Center, Mart Community Center, McLennan Community College, Waco High Performing Arts Center, University High School, & Waco Multi-Purpose Community Center.  Voters may vote at these and any other vote centers.  Secure the appropriate voter identification (or alternative ID info) before Election Day.  Come prepared to stay in line until you cast your vote.  The wait could be hours.  By law, senior citizens and handicapped individuals go to the front of the line.  If you cannot stand in line for a lengthy time, consider voting curbside.  Bring water, snacks, hand-sanitizer, a hat, a lawn chair, and a phone charger.  Bring a slate card (a list with the candidates you want to vote for already printed).  These are already available.  Voters can no longer vote a straight party ticket, so having a slate card will decrease the time it will take to vote. 

If you have trouble getting your absentee ballot or have other election concerns, call us.

Please inform the NAACP if you receive any harassing or annoying calls seeking to inquire about any application that you make for an absentee ballot.  You should talk with the NAACP before you respond to any such inquiry that seems to go beyond verifying what is on the absentee ballot application.  And if you go to vote in person and feel that it was unsafe or that there was bias, hostility or other irregularity, the NAACP is asking that you call and inform them about immediately.  Do not wait till after the election is over.  The NAACP has lawyers ready to help you on Election Day.  Call Linda Jann Lewis at (254) 754-7001.

Individuals wishing to join the Waco NAACP, may do so by using PayPal or CashApp ($WacoNAACP) or mailing payment to P. O. Box 20511; Waco, TX 76702.

This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of The Anchor NewsThe Anchor News is a free, monthly publication of Crawford Publishing.  The Anchor News is dedicated to serving the community and surrounding area, focusing on positive news and accomplishments of minorities.  For more information about The Anchor News including how to subscribe or where to pick up a copy, please visit The Anchor News website.