By Elsa Maxey

As fall kicks off this week, it’s time to greet the smells of pumpkin spice and cooler temperatures in part affected by the rains of tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean making their way into the Gulf of Mexico.

They don’t stop there. They also make it inland into places like Fort Bend County, which is about 70 miles away. Actually, the distance is closer as the crow flies.

In a little over a month, we’ll be turning our clocks back one hour since daylight savings time will have ended. And with the feel of fall, orange is everywhere.

We see that color on items in retail stores, now experiencing an upswing after life had been on hold, when we avoided social contact as much as possible to curtail COVID-19.

Due to state-ordered occupancy restrictions, which as of this week loosened up and now allow 75 percent occupancy in a variety of publicly accessed places, we’ve seen lines forming outside retail stores on Town Center Boulevard, but unfortunately not outside Pier 1. It’s closing and it even sold its display cases and fixtures along with regular merchandise. Pier 1 Imports is reportedly closing almost half of its stores due to struggles related to the coronavirus, which has resulted in a lack of customer shopping and online competition.

Stein Mart, too, one of my favorite stores, announced last month that it is closing all of its brick-and-mortar stores in the 30 states where they were located. Reports say the nationwide chain is the latest to go bankrupt as the pandemic also messed with the retail sector. On a brighter note, personal purchases at the Stein Mart at the Fountains in Stafford have been discounted generously. This has been bittersweet.

Elsewhere, shelves in some of our local stores are half-empty and some without merchandise. Before the pandemic, we did not see this sort of thing. But our worldwide supply chains have been disrupted. Many of us went to digital commerce platforms online and it’s been convenient. But admittedly, I still miss going out and physically seeing and purchasing items at retail stores.

What is promising as we enter a new season is that we are no longer supporting the status quo as we knew it because it no longer exists. We also expect a population influx into this area.  Along these lines, Don Janssen, a principal with Planned Community Developers known for commercial and residential project land acquisitions, recently said that the landscape here will be changing.

Let’s face it, no one is making more land. Janssen was on the First Colony development team launched in 1977 by global visionary Gerald Hines, who passed away last month.

In today’s world, we know our course has been changing and this means opportunities are abound for local economic development. Here’s hoping for a continuous supply chain of stuff. More than likely, this economic growth will be spearheaded by the city municipalities together with the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council. It boasts Fort Bend has more land, more access, more office, more industrial and more opportunity.

As human nature would have it, sometimes we need a crisis or a bombshell to see new opportunities. It’s like that proverbial shot in the arm. It hurts, but just momentarily and it becomes the impetus for encouragement.

It’s autumn… a time of maturity. It’s a time to learn and grow, and age has nothing to do with it.

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