DFW businesses thankful that shutdown has ended

Posted Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information To find out when facilities at Army Corps of Engineers lakes will reopen or to make campground reservations, go www.recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777.

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At Bailey’s Bar-B-Que, the first federal worker arrived about a minute after the doors opened Thursday morning.

The tiny downtown eatery, in business since 1931, sits just across Taylor Street from the Federal Building and draws many of its customers from those who work inside.

Owner Brenda Phifer said business dipped 10 to 20 percent after the government shutdown began Oct. 1. With the end of the shutdown late Wednesday, Bailey’s expects to see a resurgence of regulars returning for a sliced beef or turkey sandwich, a bag of chips and a drink.

“I think it’s going to help,” Phifer said. “We’re looking forward to them coming back today. It hurt us some. Yes it did.”

While some government agencies remained open during the shutdown — Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas, for example — others scrambled to reopen as employees ended their unpaid vacations.

The National Archives at Fort Worth was already back in business Thursday, and the George W. Bush Presidential Center posted on its Facebook page that it will resume normal operations Friday.

At Naval Air Station Fort Worth, about 400 civilian employees who were furloughed came back to work Oct. 7 after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a return-to-work order.

While the shutdown did not affect most of the combined 10,500 military and civilian employees, some nearby small businesses noticed a drop in customers.

At the Texture Hair Salon on River Oaks Boulevard, owner Olgalydia Longoria-Theiss said her business was almost cut in half during the two-week shutdown.

“I was watching the news and saw that they had signed legislation that ended the shutdown,” she said. “Calls started coming in slowly for appointments, and I didn’t immediately put it together. Then the calls steadily increased. Now I’m totally busy through this weekend.”

Longoria-Theiss said this is not the first time she has seen a decline in business because of government actions.

“I’ve been in this business about 30 years, and I’ve noticed that every time something big like this happens with the government, the luxury services like hairstyling slow down,” Longoria-Theiss said. “When it’s OK again, it’s like the waters part and business picks up.”

Some federal employees weren’t called back to work until Thursday morning, so reopening some facilities is a little more complicated than just turning on the lights or unlocking a gate.

The Fort Worth district of the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates 25 reservoirs across Texas, said that because of the logistics, opening all its campgrounds and facilities around its lakes will take time.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time to get things back to normal operations,” said Clay Church, a spokesman for the Fort Worth district. “People just need to be patient with us.”

The shutdown also affected ranchers, who couldn’t get USDA price reports, said Jeff Geider, director of TCU’s Institute of Ranch Management.

“I do think it had an impact,” Geider said. “What it does is create a disadvantage for anyone trying to market or buy commodities.”

Geider said the shutdown could still hurt farmers and ranchers who count on National Resource Conservation Service programs, which can be used for conservation projects such as building earthen dams.

“My hope is we will get back to some normalcy, but I think the jury is still out on how long this will affect things — not just agriculture — but everything else,” Geider said. “It may linger a little longer than we all want it to.”

Jason Skaggs, executive director of government and public affairs for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, said he has heard a few complaints from members but doesn’t believe that the impact has been that serious.

“I think a lot of our members have gone more old-school by taking it upon themselves to call people directly to find out price information,” Skaggs said.

Staff writer Terry Evans contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698 Twitter: @fwhanna

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