PARIS, Ky. (LEX 18) — All this week, we are spotlighting what makes the community of Paris so unique to those who call it home.
During this pandemic, one of the ways people in central Kentucky are helping their neighbors make it through is the growing trend of shopping local.
Paris is around 20 miles north of Lexington, and over the past few years, the historic downtown has been revitalized. And when the pandemic hit, the community came together to make sure those local stores and restaurants stayed in business.
What's old is new again in the city of Paris. A mile-long historic downtown main street with restored buildings, all in jeopardy when the pandemic hit nearly a year ago.
"It was like they closed down the stores, and it was like a ride or die situation," said Lauren Biddle with the Chamber of Commerce. "They did what they had to do in order to survive."
Biddle says businesses teamed up with other businesses, creating websites, figuring out how to do online orders, and curbside delivery. Lorena foley, who has owned The Southern Marketplace for nearly six years, says the community responded.
"I think the change was people are just more aware of the fact that if you don't shop local, stores won't be in business," said Foley.
Business owners say that shop local attitude helped Paris businesses not only survive but thrive.
Back in July, in the middle of the pandemic, the city had a ribbon cutting to open ten new businesses."
One of those new businesses was "The Pie - Brick Oven Pizza." Owner Erin Perez previously operated a bakery. Perez says she's turned to social media to help raise awareness about her menu.
"Our social media presence is very helpful," she says. "A lot of people interact on our Facebook page and our Instagram, especially when it comes to upcoming events or our specials. people are very intrigued."
Another person expanding his online presence is Ralph Quillin of Quillin Leather & Tack.
"A little bit of luck and a little bit of sweat, and here we are," he says.
After a rough start to the year, he says it was a whole different story by the end of 2020, with sales up 20%.
"We saw at Christmas time, a really big upswing," said Quillin. "The internet is probably 60% of our business now."
Despite weathering a challenging 2020, all of these business owners know the pandemic isn't over, and they will need to continue to make changes to survive.
"We're just rolling with the punches," said Perez. "We're just trying to get through this hard time. If we can get through this, we can get through anything."
And, with the rise of staycations, there is hope for more tourism in 2021.
"We offer a lot here, and Paris is open for business," said Biddle.
Stay with us all week long for our Spotlight on Paris coverage on-air and online at lex18.com.