KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
March 16, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark and Jennifer Miko
The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo closed for the 2020 season early due to COVID-19. Canceling the event upset event fans but the financial repercussions concern for the venders who depend their sales at the largest livestock show gathering of the year.
Find vendors like Pony Pal Stable in Facebook group started by two Katy moms.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo typically hosts more than 300 vendors. This year they opened for business on March 2 but closed March 12 due to the national health emergency. The rodeo was supposed to run through March 21.
15 Years at the Houston Rodeo
Jenni Wheeler has been hosting her booth, Crafty Canine Collars at Rodeo for 15 years. Shoppers visit her booth to buy handmade collars, clip-on bandanas and assorted gift items for pet owners. Wheeler says customers return every year to shop for bling collars, or collegiate-branded items for their pets.
Wheeler, a Katy resident, started sewing last December just to be ready by March. She estimates that Rodeo comprises about five months of her income, and she added that German Festival and Roundtop were cancelled now too.
“I have no business. Zero. I have nothing,” says Wheeler. “That’s what’s crazy,” I don’t have any shows.”
Wheeler is known for her beautiful booth setup at the Houston Rodeo.
Wheeler has been forced to change focus with her business plan since she depends on shows for most of her sales. She hopes that the vendors Facebook page will connect her with loyal and new customers.
Canceling a Tradition
“People come to rodeo every year, and that was their tradition,” says Wheeler. “I feel bad those people aren’t going to come in, and for all of those kids that can’t show now.”
Wheeler understood that the Rodeo committee had their hands tied, and that they couldn’t do anything about the city’s decision to cancel the remainder of the event. There was so much unknown about the virus, she said, that a decision had to be made.
“It’s shocking, we were all shocked nobody was expecting that or thought that would happen,” says Wheeler.
Two Katy Moms Start Group
Two Katy moms, Cara Adams and Nicole Lopez-Cummins started a Facebook group, Houston Rodeo Vendors 2020 where vendors can post online sales.
“Now there is one place where people can come and see these vendors,” says Cara Adams.
The group has over 150,000 followers and over 40 vendors participating.
Adams has always had an appreciation for the rodeo. “A long time ago I used to show goats as part of FFA,” says Adams.
Now she and Nicole work to help vendors reach the visitors who had looked forward to shopping at the Houston Rodeo.
Sales to Fund Scholarship
Vendor Texas Flame and Smoke is donating 50% of their online sales as a scholarship.
“The scholarship will help an individual who missed the opportunity to participate because of the shutdown,” states Texas Flame and Smoke.
During Hurricane Harvey, Cara and Nicole set up a similar Facebook page to help support local businesses. Whenever there is a crisis, no matter the scale, small businesses are often impacted the most.
Check out the Houston Rodeo vendors online and imagine you are walking the halls of the festive rodeo and stock up on your favorite rodeo merchandise.