Lexington’s small business owners in a bind; promised loan money isn’t arriving

Posted at 2:02 PM, Apr 24, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Business at Bourbon Creek inside Fayette Mall was brisk. The owners of the “mom and pop” shop took a gamble last fall, and it was paying off. Then COVID-19 made its way across the oceans, and everything changed.

“From everyone I’ve talked to, we are in dire situations here," Mark Thomas said of his business, and those of his fellow small business owners.

Recognize the name? That would be Detective Mark Thomas of the Lexington Police Department, and LEX 18’s Crime Stoppers franchise. For many years he and his wife have been sanding, sawing, hammering and staining their merchandise in the garage of their Lexington home. The business, which previously operated only during the holiday shopping season, was so robust that they were invited to give it a try on a full-time basis, which they did in October. Now, through no fault of their own, they could be facing some difficult decisions.

Thomas said the couple has been using money they’ve saved “for situations just like this,” but acknowledged that model can’t last for very long. He’s also very disappointed that the loan money offered by the federal government hasn’t reached those who need it most.

“Even though we applied first, we were pushed to the back,” he said of the exasperating process of securing this loan money. “Then we were denied this money because they said they didn’t get clear guidelines. Not only that, but big businesses came in and swooped it all up. It’s sickening, because there’s people out there like us who truly need that money but can’t get it.”

Thomas said there are millionaires running multi-million dollar businesses, some of which are based in Lexington, who had help securing the loan money before others could get their share.

“I’m not saying they didn’t follow the letter of the law, because they did,” he said. “But unfortunately, whoever drafted this deal completely missed their mark for people like us.”

Perhaps a portion of this new $484 billion stimulus package signed on Friday by President Trump will reach Thomas, and others most in need. It had better, or most of them will forced to make the toughest of all business decisions.

“Those businesses will absolutely be closing, and won’t be re-opening,” he said.

For the detective and his wife, that would be a crime.