As COVID-prompted regulations impact businesses, some find new success, others close permanently

Published: May. 27, 2020 at 8:39 PM EDT
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That's a word that summarizes how many businesses in Eastern Kentucky are feeling about local economies. Kentucky's unemployment is among some of the highest by percentages in the nation.

After months of being closed, some businesses are finding new-found business as they have reopened, others are keeping their doors closed permanently.

“I got about a week in of work before this whole pandemic hit before we had to shut down so this has been our opening week,” said Katie McQueen.

Katie is the owner of McQueen & Co. Salon in Laurel County.

She started this business in hopes of giving her something to be proud of and have when she grew up. She had only been open for a week before COVID-prompted regulations caused the business to close for months. She worried about what would happen.

“You know, if it’s meant to be, you know we’ll find a way, we’ll keep the doors open and we’ll come back better than ever and that’s what happened, I mean He has blessed us tenfold in all of this," she McQueen said.

Their doors are back open now and are taking appointments. Katie says the couple of days of business they have had have been almost unreal.

“So overall I can honestly say that it has went as smooth as smooth can go during all of this," she added.

Other businesses in the county have packed up and closed down for good.

"So it was pretty heartbreaking, try not to think about it but," said Kelly Gay.

Kelly started Laurel Fitness in pursuit of a dream.

"It's always been in my head to open up my own gym, that's something I always talked about, my wife has heard it a million times in the last 7-8 years," he added.

A fitness center that people could train without feeling intimidated was that dream. He started it after working multiple other jobs. He eventually landed a physical gym in Laurel County where he held group fitness classes and individualized training.

That all stopped months ago, again, due to COVID-prompted regulations.

"And at that time it was getting worse so that's when I kind of decided to go ahead and close it up permanently," he added.

The building is now empty as Kelly moved out, after refunding his clients and having no income for months, he knew he had to close the businesses.

He still is waiting for any sort of small business loan. He applied months ago.

He knows this is the end of a chapter, but does not think it is the end of his book.

"But I do still want to train clients, it's been a passion of mine to help people get in shape."

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