Olathe business owner defies Johnson County stay-at-home extension, opens store

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OLATHE, Kan. — Life is slowly getting back to normal for many Kansans, as the statewide stay-at-home order was lifted over the weekend.

However, Johnson and Wyandotte counties are still on lockdown until next Monday. 

But one Olathe business owner isn’t waiting. 

An additional week of mandated shutdown means another week of struggling to stay afloat for many non-essential businesses. That’s why Rebecca Shipley at Olathe Home Decor opened her store’s doors on Monday.

I feel like I’ve gone through all those emotions. I’ve cried; I’ve stressed; I’ve stayed awake nights,” Shipley said. 

Shipley’s store has been closed since the second week of March in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Last week, Johnson County officials extended the county’s shutdown through May 10. She said waiting another week to open wasn’t an option.

“I’m frustrated. If my only choice is to default, to go out of business — I don’t even have the opportunity to liquidate — or fight, I’m going to fight for my right to make a living,” Shipley said. 

Rebecca’s husband, Bob Shipley, who owns and operates Olathe Glass Company from the same building as the decor store, fully supports his wife’s decision to open before the stay-at-home order expires. 

“It’s pretty much necessary. Businesses just can’t stay closed forever. Everybody can be scared and held up in their house if they want to be. But at some point, life goes on,” Bob said. 

Minus a few operational changes, it’s been business as usual for the glass company since they never had to shutdown.

As for Rebecca, she’s trying to get back on her feet and doing so while making adjustments.

“I have removed two walls in this showroom to allow social distancing. We have marked the floor for one way traffic. We have put up Plexiglas barriers at the countertops. We have social distancing, of course, encouraged. I have sanitation stations throughout,” Rebecca said.

She hopes this moves will speed up her business’ recovery.

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