A Denison business is receiving a grant aimed at assisting woman-owned businesses across Texas through the COVID-19 panemic.
Denison’s Monsters on Main is one of 100 businesses across the state that have won a $10,000 grant through the Texas Women’s University.
The AssistHER grant, issued under the school’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs, is aimed at assisting with operating expenses, technology upgrades and other expenses for businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19
“While we wished we could help all women-owned businesses in Texas, we are glad we were able to make a difference to many,” Center Director Shannon Mantaro said. “Through this challenging time, the Center for Women Entrepreneurs is here and will continue to assist women-owned businesses as we all move together toward a new normal.”
Monsters on Main is one of the newest attractions in downtown Denison and was started by business women Nitia Musico late last year. Musico, who also owns Rugs and Stuff, is transitioning her traditional rug storefront into a business aimed at selling plush monsters and other related products.
Musico said she came up with the idea for the store while creating window decorations for Monsters on Main, the city’s annual trick or treat event with the same name.
“I was doing them for a window design for Monsters on Main, and it kind of took off from there,” she said.
In recent months, Musico said that business has dropped off significantly since the storefront closed earlier this spring. In the interim, Musico said she has transitioned to using online sales but added that it is something she doesn’t have a lot of experience with.
“Honestly, the store has been closed, so the foot traffic hasn’t been there, as with everyone downtown,” she said. “We’ve still been doing online says through shipping or curbside pick-up. It is still down, but we are hanging in there.”
Despite lower sales, Musico said she was able to use the time to finish the redesign for the storefront.
In recent weeks, Musico said she has been able to open the storefront to light crowds, but said she is hesitant to do any large events, given the current climate with the pandemic. Both she and her employee both take care of individuals who are at risk for the viral infection.
With the grant, Musico said she wants to focus on developing an online presence for her shop and growing beyond its base following on Facebook.
“I am still learning this. I have things up, but it is only on a Facebook market page,” she said.
“The biggest thing is building a website. More exposure means more business beyond local,” she continued.
In addition to increasing her e-commerce focus, Musico said she wants to use the funds to help expand the store overall. With the funds, Musico said she plans to expand her inventory and bring in new monster-related products. This would included items made by other craftspeople.
“It has allowed me to move head with everything that I’ve wanted to do but was struggling to do,” she said. “Without it it would have taken me months to do this.”
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.