With temperatures up, COVID cases down, First Friday businesses happy to see more customers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s not only First Friday, but it’s the first Friday of the year with nicer weather.

Local businesses are excited to see the foot traffic after a year of pandemic slowdowns and closures. However, owners said while it’s nice to have customers, the most important thing is keeping everyone safe. 

In the West Bottoms, Bella Patina is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and owner Nick Allen said it’s a day of optimism. While they came through the pandemic alright, the business has 75 small business vendors. 

“It was a little scary at first. We had to close for a couple months, but it’s been incredible the support we’ve had this past year,” Allen said. 

While much of the past year was up in the air, Allen sad it’s good to see people back in the West Bottoms.

“For us, it’s not just about making sales. It’s about making an experience that is unique to Kansas City, and that’s something that we really love and believe in,” Allen said.

Down the street at Sincerely Ellis, boutique owner Kayla Taylor said customers make her happy, but making people comfortable is what she truly cares about.

“My hope for the future now that we have vaccines available is no matter how people are comfortable shopping, whether that’s in person as we follow safety protocols or if they choose to stay home, we just hope that people continue to support local Kansas City businesses,” Taylor said.

The monthly event is expected to be much smaller in the Crossroads. Years ago, it would be one of the busiest spots in the city on a First Friday. Buffalo State Pizza owner Phillippe Lechvian said they plan to treat it like any other Friday with music on the patio.

“It would be awesome for sure for the businesses surrounding us. Not going back to the craziness it was in the past, but a level where people feel comfortable walking around, going to galleries, supporting small business. Yes, I think it would be definitely awesome,” Lechvian said.

All the business owners said they’re working hard to make sure they are following COVID-19 guidelines and require customers to wear masks.

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