LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) -- Greyline Station is finally starting to take shape. It's first few tenants have moved into their stores and the Julietta Market is set to open Saturday.
The massive 65,000 square foot space, on the corner of North Limestone and Loudon, sat vacant for years before owner and developer, Chad Needham, stepped in.
"Anyone coming to Lexington you gotta come down and visit it," Needham said. "The businesses are startups. They're young. Some are established, but most are new. Just come down to support it! It's about the most fantastic shop local experience you can have."
That experience could start at Poppy & Pomelo, which was the first store to open at Greyline Station.
"I'm so blessed we're part of Greyline Station and being a business here in Lexington," owner Kami Risk said. "We have such a fabulous city."
While she is excited, Risk also said starting a business during a pandemic has been unnerving.
"This is certainly not the start that we had expected this year, but I would say that we have not lost our passion to do it," Risk said.
Poppy & Pomelo has adjusted to the times. Risk launched an online store where shipping is offered. You can also have a private shopping experience, pick up items curbside, or have products delivered locally.
"I feel like we're doing everything that we can do still maintain our business through all this and serve our customers," Risk said.
A few doors down, Laura Lou's Patisserie has also opened. It was the second shop to move into Greyline Station.
It first opened last Thursday, and owner Laura Clay said she was shocked by the interest. The store opened at 7 a.m. but Clay said customers had already started to line up 10 minutes prior.
"It was an awesome feeling!" Clay said. "I was not ready at 6:50 a.m. for somebody to be waiting on me but it was an awesome feeling."
The day before, Gov. Andy Beshear had just announced new restrictions, limiting the patisserie to carry-out only. Clay said she was okay with the change.
"By opening a business in the pandemic, I didn't want to encourage gathering, so this is a good thing because now I'm able to graciously ask people to come right in and walk right back out instead of hanging around and potentially spreading the virus even more," Clay said.
Old North Bar is next to Laura Lou's, but it is not open just yet. The owner, Wes Hogan, said with the new restrictions, he won't get the opening he had hoped for.
"That soft opening has really become more of a soft, soft opening," Hogan said.
When he does open, bar-goers will be able to walk up to the roll-up door and grab drinks to-go.
Though disappointing, Hogan said he supports the state's decision and is willing to make the sacrifice.
"We certainly understand the need to do that so we can all get past COVID and have it be something that's behind us," Hogan said. "It just makes it another challenge of opening a small business."
About a dozen other stores will open soon. Some include North Lime Coffee & Donuts, The Breeze Wine Bar, and Wilson's Grocery and Meat.
On Saturday, the Julietta Market will open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Greyline Station hosts the market, which is operated by the NoLi Community Development Corporation. It will feature 58 local vendors.
One of those vendors is the Lexington Design Collective, which consists of a small group of artists trying to grow their businesses by working together.
They will share a booth in the Julietta Market.
"Having this space come up, especially this year, has felt like a huge weight lifted off," one of the founders of the Lexington Design Collective, Melissa Oesch, said. "I feel like I can breathe easier. It feels like something that's not only going to help me get through the next few months because I was not sure what I was going to do, it's going to be something I can grow on."
Oesch said the pandemic has been difficult. She has worked full-time as an artist for 11 years and had to contemplate whether she could continue when sales plummeted.
"Do I go back and just find some kind of desk job somehow I can do from home?" Oesch questioned. "Do I need a 'plan b'? Do I need to switch my life after investing everything in this for so long? Is it just gone?"
However, when the opportunity for getting a space at the Julietta Market came up, she said she was thrilled.
"We have been at the starting line for a few weeks just waiting for the 'go'," Oesch said. "Everything is starting to get in full gear here and we're all starting to bring stuff together and we cannot wait."
Another vendor at Julietta Market is Kobe Johnson, who owns Urban Magnolia Market. She started the business about a year and a half ago as a second source of income.
"It's a passion of mine," Johnson said. "I'm trying to teach my daughter about being an entrepreneur as well."
Her goal is to eventually move into her own commercial space in the future.
"I think that having both website and a brick and mortar-type space will be pertinent to the growth of our business so we're really excited," Johnson said.
Johnson's goals are perfectly suited for the Julietta Market, which is an extension of the Night Market. The Night Market is considered the first stepping stone for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. Julietta Market can be viewed as the second stepping stone.
According to its website, "the Julietta Market will allow small businesses to grow while minimizing risk by providing affordable rents and opportunities for incremental growth, in a beautiful, historic, climate-controlled space with shared and maintained bathrooms and seating facilities".
There will be several COVID-19 safety measures in place when the Market opens Saturday. Those include having hand sanitizer available, doing temperature checks, requiring face masks and social distancing, and capping capacity at 295 people, which is 30% of the building's max capacity. Some vendors will also offer curbside pick-up.
Business owners who are interested in getting involved can email Kris Nonn at email@example.com.