OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — For the first time since COVID-19 restrictions shut businesses down in March, a huge show at the Overland Park Convention Center is opening its doors to the public this weekend.
Safety measures are in place at the “Just for Her” shopping event and for the most part, customers are excited for the experience.
Masked up and ready to shop, the line formed early Saturday morning with customers eager to get inside the convention center and support the local businesses they’ve been missing.
Susan Sloan is a self-proclaimed senior citizen shopper. “We are thrilled to be here and help the economy if we can. We are thrilled to be out.”
Shoppers told FOX4 they felt safe with the plethora of measures in place. There were multiple entrances and exits to the show. About 180 vendor booths were separated by 15-foot wide isles.
Sanitizing stations dotted the display floor. Masks were required to enter, and the contests and give-aways that the show is known for were all contactless.
There were no crowded shuttles busing shoppers from distant parking lots because of social distancing requirements. And for the first time, there was also no admission fee.
Back in April, Aimee Jacobson, the owner of “Just for Her”, committed to moving the event from June to the end of July, hoping cases of COVID-19 would have dropped. That didn’t happen, but financial commitments to the convention center and high vendor interest convinced Jacobson to open the show, shrinking it to just two days instead of the usual three.
“It was a tough decision to continue to do this event, but small businesses are struggling to survive,” Jacobson said. “We wanted to support the small businesses and make sure we created a safe shopping experience. We just decided the show has to go on.”
Local vendors who have been holed up all winter are grateful for the opportunity to finally meet their customers face-to-face.
Krystal Webb is the owner of Boss. Queen. She creates handmade earrings and sells women’s boutique-style clothing. In-person sales are crucial to her mission.
“All the safety precautions have been carefully planned out, and I’m so very excited to be here and meet some new friends,” Webb said.
From personalized face masks to food to women’s and children’s clothing. Small Kansas City businesses, many of them home-based, may only have one shot at a big show this year…and this is it. Holiday shows around the Metro are already canceling.
“I just hope that all is good for the future and don’t know what that looks like yet,” Webb said. “I do have an online store at bossqueen.com. It is only open for online sales, but for face-to-face sales… we don’t know what the fall and winter will look like right now.”
Just for Her and Chick Events does tentatively have an outdoor show scheduled for Town Center this fall.
The indoor holiday show at the Overland Park Convention Center is cancelled. The situation is just too unpredictable to commit to that financially with COVID-19 numbers still on the rise.
“Hopefully 2021 will feel a little bit back to normal. If not, we will roll with the punches and do what needs to be done,” Jacobson said.
Just for Her continues through Sunday at the Overland Park Convention Center.