LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Ellarhea Miller was happy to be walking into Fayette Mall with her grandparents.
“My grandma said she’s getting me a graduation gift, but I don’t know what it is,” Miller said.
She can find out today. The mall and other non-essential retailers were allowed to re-open after being sidelined for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us to get back in there and get back to the grind and start making some money again, so we’re excited,” said Mark Thomas, a co-owner of Bourbon Creek Lexington inside the mall. Thomas said the management is requiring its staff members and retailers to wear masks. He will tape off areas to promote social distancing inside his store, and disinfecting the shop will be something that happens multiple times per day.
Thomas and his wife Camille ran their business as a seasonal operation in prior years until deciding to plunge into it full-time, several months before the pandemic reached Kentucky.
“Being a first-year business, we didn’t really know what to expect,” he said, “so we set aside a lot of money we made around the holidays, not knowing what to expect during the slower seasons.”
That was smart because doing so allowed them to continue making their rent payments, even while sidelined.
Other businesses inside the mall weren’t as fortunate, so they likely won’t be returning. Others, Thomas said, just weren’t ready to open on the same two-days-notice he received. Given he employs himself and family members, overhead is limited, and his shelves appear to be well-stocked.
Common areas inside the mall, like the food court and children’s play area, will remain closed to the public, but for a particular 13-year-old, none of that matters on this day.
“We’ve been at home all the time, so to get a glimpse of normal life, it definitely feels great,” Miller said.