LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky Derby is going to be different this year.
First, it’s a September Derby. Many of the traditional events surrounding the Derby have been canceled, and, as of now, there also will be a smaller crowd with people wearing masks. All of the changes are impacting local businesses that typically thrive around Derby time.
Dee’s off of Shelbyville Road in Louisville is typically busy with wall-to-wall customers, patrons picking out that perfect fascinator or hat to match their hat for Derby or Oaks.
“Definitely quieter,” owner Kathy Olliges said. “Which is fine, we expected that.”
A pandemic plus a September Derby have left people like Anna Hickman feeling a certain way.
”Missing that energy that comes along with Derby in the city and the store,” said Hickman, who works at Dee’s.
The story has gotten some customers coming in to order masks and fascinators.
“There are people that go every year and don’t want to give it up so they are going anyway or having a party,” Olliges said. One woman in the store Monday came all the way from Colorado just to find a hat. She was shopping with her friend, Dilya Sultanova.
”First, we have to find her hat -- one blue and one beige color,” said Sultanova, who lives in Louisville. “We might buy some hats and stay home and celebrate Derby.”
Dee’s anticipates many people will have Derby parties at their homes this year. Dee’s said business is slower on the hat end of the store, but they are seeing people come in for other items.
”People are really sitting around thinking, ‘What can I change; what can I do?‘” Olliges said. “They want a new wreath for the door, a new flag for their yard, so in that sense those sales are making up for Derby.”
A big part of sales at Dee’s right now are masks. They’ve paired some of their masks with fascinators and hats. They have fun prints of horses, jockeys, mint juleps and roses. Hickman said many women are choosing fascinators over hats since they will also be wearing a mask this year at the track.
"It will definitely be a Derby to remember," Hickman said.
As soon as this Derby is over, Dee’s will be packing up the spring flowers and a majority of the hats, only to break them back out all over again in a few months for what will hopefully be Derby 147 on the first Saturday next May.