Despite restrictions on businesses here during the past eight months, Corrales’ gross receipts tax revenues are holding steady compared to last year. Declines in holiday shopping are expected to ravage the bottom lines for retailers here as elsewhere this month and last, but so far sales tax revenues have stayed relatively strong, according to Village Administrator Ron Curry. “Gross receipts tax revenues for us are running about the same as last year. In fact, it’s up about two percent, so we’re really happy about it.”
Gross receipts tax revenues for Corrales for the month of September were “within a couple of thousand dollars, one way or the other, of last year’s numbers,” he reported. Curry was asked why he thought this year’s gross receipts taxes are about the same as last year, given the recent months of business closures and restrictions. He didn’t know, because local governments do not have access to information from the N.M. Department of Taxation and Revenue regarding taxes paid by specific businesses. “That information is not available to us. However, as I’ve gone around the village talking to people, some of our businesses, like Frontier Mart, have told me business was good for them during the COVID.
“Apparently, some of our businesses have not suffered, because month over month, the numbers have been pretty stable.” Throughout New Mexico, a severe clamp-down on business activity has been ordered by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. All except businesses designated as essential were ordered to close this summer while some were told to curtail the number of patrons who could be served at any one time. When the daily infection rate declined, presumably due to those restrictions, the governor relaxed the measures. But then, late last month, infection rates skyrocketed in New Mexico, so the governor imposed the tightest restrictions yet.
In Corrales, where coronavirus cases were relatively small, infections climbed sharply at the end of November. Corrales had 63 cases as of November 10, then 72 cases November 14. That number had risen to 111 cases as of November 28. It is no great mystery that local businesses, whether selling breakfast, lunch and dinner, or arts and crafts, are being hard hit during this pandemic. To keep going, they pivoted to pick up or delivery, or online sales. And now colder weather, along with a surge in COVID-19 have added to the mix. In Corrales, the usually bustling Mercado de Maya, home to Elaine Bolz’ Claywork, both her studio and shop, is quiet indeed.
A fixture there for 32 years, Bolz says “Right now it’s just the Bosque Gallery and me!” Ambiente, the emporium at the southern end, mostly has been closed since well before the recent lockdown. Barb Clark and Susana Erling’s Corrales Fine Arts in the mercado tried opening for limited hours on weekends, then Clark recently attempted a two-day shop online/pick up curbside sale of her work which ran less smoothly than she had hoped… to put it mildly. But, crucially, she had shifted, exploring new ways to do business. A vendor unwilling to change likely will not survive. “Everything is absolutely new,” as a bookstore owner in Detroit recently put it in a PBS interview. Another seller added “We all have become better business people.”
An in-demand talent like Clark need not worry. Her work is featured on a 2021 calendar produced by New Mexico Magazine, along with that of Jim Jennings. Order it at https://tinyurl.com/ y6nc4lg6. Bolz agreed the pandemic has pushed her finally to acknowledge she needs better marketing, even a presence on Instagram. “I never wanted to do social media, but now I have to. I will have to be much more professional online.” Her business has been largely based on commissions, and drop-in customers. She laughed when describing her 10 by 12 foot display space, room for two visitors at the most, which she could open, now that the latest tough reset per Michelle Governor Lujan Grisham is over.
Grateful for self-employment money, as well as an expected disbursal of local CARES funding —“The Village is confident the entire $255,000 will be disbursed to local businesses by the December deadline,” according to Mayor Roake— Bolz says her rent is “not that high.” And “this is the season in which we all must make sales,” so to the world of social media she will go. See it at http://claywork.com/index.php. For more information, call 898 8822.
She is part of the 38th annual Weyrich Gallery Invitational Theme show, “The Great Turning,” which just opened and runs to January 22, 2021, but what “open” means is unclear. The gallery is at 2935 Louisiana Blvd. Contact Valerie Tibbetts at 450-6516 or 883-7410. The aforementioned Corrales Bosque Gallery put up an online shop fairly recently. See corralesbosquegallery.com/ store, featuring work by Dennis Chamberlain, Indea Sanchez, Andy Goldschmidt, Dianna Shomaker and Juan Wijngaard. The gallery hopes to feature “Little Critters” made of polymer, paint, and wood, each about 9-10-inches tall and 2-inch wide, at the gallery sometime in December during a “Little Treasures Show,” if allowed to open. If not, they will be available for sale on the website.
As for breweries and eateries, they have tiptoed from normal, to limited indoor seating, to only outdoor seating, adding curbside pickup as well as delivery options, to then only doing such. Corrales Bistro Brewery recently was offering to fill up growlers with mixed drinks, selling as many gift certificates as possible, handing out free lunches to any kid who wanted one, and operating its own food truck. It debuted at the Barelas neighborhood La Esquinita Food Hall/Farm Stand/Food Truck Park at 507 4th on November 14. View its maneuvers via Facebook.
ExNovo Brewing Company is selling carry-out brews, canning a range of products on site, as well as offering Milagro wines and Candlestick Coffee beans, and hosting food trucks. Milagro Winery itself pivoted cleverly a few months back. Partnering with organic growers Silverleaf Farms on an order online, drive-thru and pickup shop, the two entities have been successfully offering customers wine, cheese, fresh veggies, even soil, to be retrieved each Thursday afternoon. See http://www.milagrofarmstand.com. Also showing innovative pandemic planning has been the much larger Corrales Growers’ Market, inventing unique ways to connect vendors and customers, navigating masks, no pre-orders, drive-thru, and then walk-through. And, to support its Market Shop Booth, selling largely baskets and T-shirts, it set up a shop at https://cgm-store. square.site/s/shop.
C3’s Bistro at 4940 Corrales Road which only opened in July offering a large menu of Cajun dishes, with enthusiastic eater reviews, launched a Go Fund Me project on November 23, for both C3’s and its other restaurant, P’tit Louis Bistro. As of November 29 the undertaking had raised $1,075 of its $134,441 goal. C3’s explained it this way: “Two friends started out with a dream to bring great food and service to each guest that graced our doors. Little did we know that a world-wide pandemic was lurking in the shadows waiting to rock that dream.
“Much like you, we have done our best to ebb and flow with the changing restrictions and mandates handed down by our leaders. While they may mean well, it has not stopped our expenses from piling up, while at the same time stifling our ability to serve our guests. We have persevered and been creative, adding to and changing our menus in ways that will meet the needs of the current climate. At the end of the day, our hard work and creativity have still fallen short.
“We have supplemented the revenues of our restaurants with our personal income since the beginning of this crisis to hold onto as much staff as fiscally possible and our operations running. We knew that was an unsustainable model, but believed it was a better option than closing our doors for good. Now what was unsustainable has become increasingly unbearable, as we both have families at home who are counting on our provision.
“So, we have turned to you, our community. We want to be around to serve you for years to come and we need your help. The money raised will go to business expenses incurred as a result of the New Mexico health order restrictions, which will also allow for the revenues generated from our limited operations to go towards keeping our staff employed and guests served.
“We desire to be up front and transparent with you all, and any donor who leaves their information will receive notice when a debt has been paid to ensure you of the efficacy and sincerity of your money. Any amount raised above what we have asked will be used as working capital, to help cushion us against further pandemic-driven restrictions.
“We are extremely grateful for any and all support that is provided. Thank you for taking the time to hear our story and your consideration. Be well and many thanks. They added that “No salaries to ownership, nor personal reimbursements, will be taken from these reimbursements.”
C3’s website, http://www.c3sbistro.com is its menu. The GoFundMe page is reached via Facebook. Long time Corrales “pie”purveyor Village Pizza is busy doing take-out, but still asks locals to “support your favorites today. We need the encouragement!” It’s obvious. If you like Corrales businesses —and we could not visit with them all— support them with your money. If you would also like to support other New Mexico businesses, take a look at http://www.buynmlocal.com and purchase gift cards. This site features over 800 businesses from across the state.
Having endured the tough two-week lockdown, here comes a complicated “tiered county-by-county COVID-19 risk system, enabling local communities to shed burdensome restrictions as soon as public health data show the virus is retreating within their borders.”
This went into effect December 2. Governor Lujan Grisham put it like this: “The county-by-county framework enables counties, and the businesses and nonprofits within their borders, to operate with fewer restrictions when they slow the spread of the virus and drive down test positivity rates.” If you’d like to explore the tiered system, the red to green framework, see http://www.governor.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/red-to-green-framework-for-safe-reopening.pdf.