Fayette County business owners weigh reopening

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OAKLAND, Tenn. — Small business owners across Tennessee are weighing their options on whether it’s safe to reopen their businesses.

While Shelby County remains one of the counties in Tennessee that is not cleared to reopen, one small business owner in neighboring Fayette County said she’ll reopen only when she thinks it’s safe.

“Everyday at Kindred Spirit Style Facebook page we go ‘live at lunch,’ and we have a sale,” said Patti Yancey, owner of Kindred Spirit Style in Oakland.

She has been keeping her boutique gift store afloat and paying her employees for the past two weeks.

Yancey closed her door after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Fayette County and was surprised at how well her “live at lunch” sale went over.

“I’m like, ‘Are you kidding?’ Afterwards we did a hallelujah dance … I’m like, ‘We made some money. We can pay our rent.’ Sos this is how we’ve done it,” she said.

Yancey said she’s actually making more money through her Facebook sales than before nonessential businesses, like hers, were forced to close.

She’s looking forward to returning to business as usual but is concerned neighboring Shelby County still has too many COVID-19 cases to completely reopen.

“I have talked to my staff again because we’re very close, and it’s not just about me, but it’s about keeping everybody safe,” she said.

With about 300 small businesses in Fayette County, officials admit not all will qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program from the federal government.

But many people in Fayette County don’t want to rush reopening.

“Our population is way less than Memphis and Shelby County,” Pattie Krepela, executive director of the Oakland Regional Chamber of Commerce, said. “I’m really hoping we do things on our own, based on our population and who lives here and not really follow the Shelby County’s lead because our numbers are totally different.”

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