Port Isabel to conduct Facebook Live series for businesses

PORT ISABEL — For the time being, shoppers aren’t able to browse inside retail stores so to compensate for that, this community decided to virtually showcase businesses’ merchandise to customers.

City of Port Isabel marketing director Valerie Bates launched a Retail To-Go Facebook Live series Friday afternoon in an effort to help customers see products local businesses are selling.

“ As we’re all looking for ideas, it just occurred to me to do a Facebook Live from the inside of the stores that were willing to participate or were ready to participate so we can bring the stores to people where they are sheltering in place,” Bates said. “It’s basically almost the same thing that we did for restaurants because we scan venues and put them up online and push out what restaurants are serving.”

Coastal Winds, a retail store located near the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge on Highway 100, is the first store featured in the Facebook Live series.

From carved items and beachwear to jewelry and Tervis tumblers, Bates said there’s a variety of items that can be purchased at Coastal Winds.

“ It really is a one-stop shop for anything you would want that would be tropical in design,” she said. “It’s probably best known for its chainsaw cut pelicans that were always displayed on the sidewalk out front.”

Bates says the Facebook Live videos enable interaction between customers and retail owners.

“ If somebody says they saw something they really loved, we want that shopkeeper to be able to interact with that person, make a payment over the phone and arrange for a pickup, delivery or shipment,” she explained. “I think we are a resilient community in a lot of ways.”

Within an hour after creating the Facebook Live video of Coastal Winds, it received more than 500 views.

“ We don’t know how effective this is going to be, but it’s really a great thing to remind people that our businesses are still there and are going to be ready when they’re ready,” Bates said. “In the meantime through social distancing and taking all of the safety measures that we can, we can get a little retail therapy going also.”

Bates said it’s interesting to see how communities are creatively adapting their businesses to this new situation.

“ It’s kind of heartbreaking to call a group of businesses that are our backbone, literally, to call them non-essential because they are very essential to us,” Bates said. “We’ve done the best we can to highlight traffic to those essential businesses and now we really want to focus on what was categorized as non-essential to help them get back on their feet and get their doors open as best we can.”

Bates will host the next Facebook Live video Saturday at 2 p.m. and will feature ArtSea Gallery and Goods.

To view the Retail To-Go Facebook live videos, visit the city’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/portisabeltx.

“ The retail businesses that we’re focusing on now are mostly mom and pop, highly individualized and specialized, and so probably need our help and support,” Bates said. “I think the public is really ready for some retail-therapy so we’re excited to try this out and see if we can connect the products to people and make everybody happy.”