77° San Marcos
The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

SMTX businesses close despite growing population

Kobe Arriaga
The drive-thru speaker at Earth Burger on East Hopkins Street advises the closing of the fast food chain, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024.

Despite the growing population in San Marcos, local business owners are facing issues with maintaining their companies in the current economic landscape, leading to several closures of city’s staples in recent years.

In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported a San Marcos population of 67,553. In 2023, the city grew to a record population of 87,111, an approximate 28% increase, according to Josh Daspit, an associate professor of management at Texas State. However, Daspit said a population increase does not always mean businesses will continue to thrive like they once did.

“If population increases, [a business’s] lease may also increase in cost, their taxes, overtime supply and raw materials could increase,” Daspit said. “But if a business’s customer base isn’t increasing proportionally, then that creates a challenge.”

Earth Burger, a plant-based fast-food chain that offers a menu of vegan and vegetarian alternatives to traditional fast-food items, opened in San Marcos in August 2018 and closed on Jan. 26.

Ellen Evans, Earth Burger’s co-founder, said the location closed because they wanted to open the market for future franchisees, and the evolving San Marcos dynamics also influenced that decision

“For any local restaurant, the local economy is a challenge… There is inflation and some people are a little bit more careful where they spend their dollars and local restaurants really do feel a struggle with that,” Evans said. “Especially when those restaurants can’t compete with the chains when it comes to buying the food cost and supplies at the same rate.”

Stellar Coffee Co. was a coffee shop that opened its doors in April 2013 and closed on Sept. 9, 2023.

According to Hope Tate, Stellar’s former owner who took over the business in March 2022, the financing was not healthy long-term and upkeep negatively impacted her family financially.

“I didn’t know enough about business at the time to know I was getting into a bad deal,” Tate said in a written interview with The University Star. “My family is still dealing with the consequences.”

Daspit said while not all businesses cater to students, it still creates a set of challenges because students are a constantly changing demographic to have as consumers.

Half Price Books opened its San Marcos location in 2002 and closed in June 2022. The company experienced a decline in customers due to the changing demographics of students.

“Rent costs and a decline in customer traffic were the main factors [that led to closure],” Monica Schultz, Half Price Books’ Texas regional manager, said in a written interview with The University Star. “We struggled to grow our customer base in one of our smaller markets.”

Grins, a restaurant that has been open since 1975, is also for sale in San Marcos and has been on the market since May 11, 2023. However, according to a Jan. 8 Grins Facebook post, the restaurant is on the market but will not be closing.

Daspit said the best way for a business to navigate challenges and avoid closures is to have a plan in place for anything ranging from suppliers to pandemics.

“It’s hard sometimes to stop and take that time to plan but that is what needs to happen for a business to have long-term success,” Daspit said.

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