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Lexington businesses adapt to different kind of Derby this year

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 2:34 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – With no fans in the stands, and the governor’s latest request to keep gatherings small, the Kentucky Derby will be different this year.

It’s a simple fact that’s forcing many local businesses to adapt.

“We usually have a lot of celebrations and events in the store leading up to derby, and we haven’t been able to do those,” says Liquor Barn Customer Concierge Pam Silence.

Silence says they were fortunate to fall into the essential business category allowing them to remain open throughout the pandemic and at first, business was booming.

“It’s leveled off now,” she says. “The NCAA Tournament was canceled, that was tough because that’s like a holiday for us. Combine that with the derby and all the other summer events being canceled it’s definitely impacted us.”

The company has expanded their pick-up and delivery services to help offset their losses.

Sadly, some smaller businesses are having to sacrifice even more.

“I typically buy 6 months to a year in advance, so once everything started happening, I really started to panic,” says Sasha Bowlby, owner of Sash & Bow Boutique.

Like so many business owners, Bowlby had to change her entire business model on a dime.

Because she has family members in the high-risk categories for the virus, she decided to shut down her physical store until she can be sure her loved ones are safe, leaving her with pre-ordered derby dresses and no store to sell them in.

“So, I really had to figure out how to sell my goods without a store,” says Bowlby. “That’s when I decided to really start stepping up my social media sites.”

Fortunately, she was already posting all her items on her website which allowed her to get creative in other ways. She now goes live on Facebook and Instagram twice a week which has helped the Kentucky native really expand her locally owned business.

“People will share those videos with their friends and family across the country,” she says. “They watch, they have it on their calendars. A lot of them say there’s not much to watch on TV, so I’ve basically become their one hour of shopping time.”

Bowlby’s lesson? At the end of the day, no matter what your business, “you have to adapt, and you have to change.”

Discover more about Sash & Bow Boutique on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram page.

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