Good old fashion customer service is hard to come by nowadays, especially in retail shops. But personable service has kept Beacon’s thriving for more than 60 years on the city’s East Side.
Early next year, the long-time retail establishment will close its doors. Owner Arthur Abelman said, “it’s time for him to enjoy retirement.”
Arthur’s father, Alvin, opened Beacon’s Mercantile (they later dropped Mercantile) soon after he added loan service to his door-to-door business of selling clothes and jewelry. The state of Texas told him in order to keep his loan business, he had to have a storefront by the next 90 days if he was going to collect payments. And that’s how he found the store at 321 N. New Braunfels.
Beacon’s established itself as a place for customers to look fashionable. If you want to look sharp at Sunday service, you will find three-piece suits and dress shoes. There’s also a collection of Dickies and casual wear for the night out on the town, such as fedoras and Kangol hats. The store even has a variety of women’s business attire and stylish clothing to make any (church) first lady or usher look fashionable.
Sometimes visitors come to just talk in the showroom area (aka the “cocktail lounge”) and that’s fine because Arthur Abelman and his team of three salespeople know customers by their first names. At Beacon’s, shoppers won’t find an online store to accompany the storefront because Arthur Abelman believes that’s a “lazy way” to do business. He said to prevent returns; customers need to feel the item and try it on.
Keith Scott, who recently took advantage of Beacon’s “Retirement” sale, said Arthur’s father, Alvin, knew everyone’s name, and when Arthur took over, it was no different.
Scott said the best thing Beacon’s did was help working-class people who often couldn’t afford school uniforms or other nice clothes. He added Beacon’s let people have tabs (in-store accounts and layaways) to afford nice clothing.
“At major retailers, you can’t leave with the clothes and not pay. Who does that, and that’s what Alvin and Arthur did. They trusted people in the community with their merchandise and trusted they would pay,” Scott said.
Beacon’s offers layaway plans and handles its own in-store accounts. These services make it easier for consumers on a budget to look fashionable.
Arthur Abelman said when his father first started renting the shop at N. New Braunfels, they grew to be successful and no longer needed to borrow money from the bank. Even with the loan business discontinuing, they bought their building at 321 N. New Braunfels and the building next to it. Despite the big-box stores and the online retailers pushing many mom-and-pop shops out, Arthur Abelman said last year was one of their best years in business.
“We have grown with the people on the East Side. The West and South areas of the city have embraced us too because we try to give a quality product at a reasonable price,” said Arthur Abelman, adding customers also come from Corpus Christi, the Valley, Austin, and all parts of Texas.
But over the years, Arthur Abelman has seen the challenges of the East Side, including more crime, increased homelessness, and not enough effort from the city to improve the area. With gentrification moving into the East Side, Arthur Abelman said it will be hard for residents and business owners to pay more taxes with property values going up.
In 1960, when Beacon’s became an official brick-and-mortar store, the nation was going through civil unrest with the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement with lunch-counter sit-ins hitting most cities, including San Antonio. But Alex Abelman (Alvin’s father and Arthur’s grandfather) had already developed a rapport with the community since 1935 when he used to sell merchandise from his bike in the Beacon Hill area of San Antonio. At the young age of 99 in 2021, Alvin Abelman passed away. Alvin and Arthur operated the store together for more than 50 years. Arthur said his father never forced him to go into the family business.
“I started at Beacon’s with very little pay, but we grew to be successful. We had arguments, but when we locked the store, business was over, and that’s how we maintained a good working relationship,” Arthur Abelman said. “Working in retail is a great place to get a background in customer service. That person is not just buying something but helping to pay your salary. If you don’t treat them right, they won’t come back. You have to be personable. That’s what my father and I believed.”
Arthur Abelman said he’s leaving the business with a heavy heart, “but is looking forward to a new chapter” in his life.”
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Fight Voting Barriers in Texas
A group of organizations of color recently came together on Sept. 11 in San Antonio to represent a lawsuit they filed arguing Senate Bill 1 violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by intentionally targeting and burdening methods and means of voting used by voters of color.
Representatives gathered at the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (in San Antonio) to represent their case. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Reed Smith LLP, and The Arc filed the lawsuit for the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Justice, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Arc of Texas.
The defendants in the case are Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Deputy Secretary of State of Texas Jose Esparza, Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, Elections Administrator of Bexar County Jacque Callanen, and Elections Administrator of Harris County Isabel Longoria.
S.B. 1 includes a series of suppressive voting-related provisions that will make it much harder for Texas residents to vote and disenfranchise some altogether, particularly Black and Latino voters and voters with disabilities.
The plaintiffs claim the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by imposing barriers against voters with disabilities and denying people with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in the state’s voting programs.
The lawsuit challenges multiple provisions in SB 1, including:
- Limitations on early voting hours and constraints on the distribution of mail-in ballot applications.
- The elimination of drive-thru voting centers and the prohibition of mail-in ballot drop-boxes.
“Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has been fighting for the rights of all U.S. citizens to vote for 108 years,” said Delta Sigma Theta President and CEO Beverly E. Smith. “S.B. 1 directly threatens the right to vote of over 20,000 members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and their family and friends in Texas, and we are committed to fight against S.B. 1 on their behalf.”
Texas is among more than 40 other states that have enacted legislative efforts to substantially restrict voting access. LDF and The Arc are also involved in litigation challenging Georgia’s restrictive voting laws.
Travel, Sports, and Growth with Council Person Jalen Mckee
As the Spurs secure their #1 pick and the IPW Travel Conference puts a spotlight on our city, District 2 stands at the precipice of a booming billion-dollar tourism industry. This convergence of sports and tourism forms the backdrop of our exclusive live podcast event brought to you by East-Side-based Culture Travels magazine.
Join us as we delve into the intertwined worlds of travel and sports tourism with our distinguished guests: Jalen Mckee Rodriguez, Council Person of District 2, Deborah Omowale Jarmon, CEO/Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, Dr. Kara Allen, Chief Impact Officer for the San Antonio Spurs, and Jenny Carnes, CEO of San Antonio Sports.
Jalen, known for his engaging persona and passion for community growth, will take us on a journey through his personal travels, providing insight on how exploring new places, cultures, and experiences has fueled their tireless advocacy for the development of District 2.
Additionally, In the wake of the Spurs’ key draft pick and the potential surge of tourism following the IPW conference, Jalen offers his perspective on how these two factors intertwine with the economic prosperity of District 2. In an era where sports, culture, and economics are more interlinked than ever, understanding the potential impact on District 2’s economy becomes both enlightening and imperative.
We also welcome three extraordinary special guests: Deborah Omowale Jarmon, CEO/Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, Jenny Carnes, CEO of San Antonio Sports, and Dr. Kara Allen, Chief Impact Officer for the San Antonio Spurs. Their expertise and insights will further illuminate the intersection of sports, tourism, and economic growth in our city.
This live podcast event is perfect for those passionate about travel and tourism, who want to understand the economic relationship between the San Antonio Spurs and District 2’s economy or are eager to gain insights into the potential of district-focused development. Join us for a thought-provoking discussion, diverse perspectives, and a deeper understanding of the dynamics of travel and sports tourism.
Limited seats! Register today! We look forward to seeing you there!
Places to Stay Cool
When temperatures rise to potentially dangerous levels, it is important to stay inside an air-conditioned space whenever possible. There are currently over 30 San Antonio locations for the public to use to stay cool. These include:
- City Libraries
- Senior Centers
- Community Centers
NOTE: Via’s Personal Trip Planner can help you find a bus route to a location near you.
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO STAY COOL
Additional opportunities to stay cool include the City’s following free facilities:
- Splash Pads
- Swimming Pools
For locations, visitor information, and hours of operation, please visit the Parks & Recreation Department.
HEAT SAFETY TIPS
Adults over 65, children under 4, and people with existing medical conditions such as heart disease and those without access to air conditioning are at highest risk on days with high temperatures.
Drinking plenty of water and protecting oneself from the sun are critical precautions. Additionally, people should call and check on their neighbors who may be at high risk and ensure access to heat relief and hydration.
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are possible health effects. Warning signs of heat stroke include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea, confusion or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs, cool the child rapidly with cool water (not an ice bath) and call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. If you see a child or pet locked in a hot car or in the back of a truck, take action immediately. Jot down the car’s description (including a license plate number). Call the Police Department immediately. If regarding a pet, call Animal Care Services at 311. Per city ordinance, both Police and Animal Care Officers have the right to break a car’s window if a child or animal is endangered inside a vehicle.
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