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Downtown Lee's Summit shops react to Jackson County's decision to rescind mask mandate

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Posted at 8:14 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 21:14:41-05

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — The Jackson County Legislature voted to rescind the county's mask mandate on Friday afternoon. This means local shop owners will not have to enforce customers to wear a mask when entering their place of business.

KSHB 41 News spoke with over a dozen shops in downtown Lee’s Summit following the decision, and most owners are excited to see the mandate be lifted.

“I think that we’ve just done what we had to do. We really didn’t have a choice,” said owner Geri Watts of Wedding Expressions by Geri.

Watts has made countless dreams come true for brides and grooms over the years. With more than 10 years of expertise in wedding fashion, she knows what works for her company. And more importantly, what does not.

Although her customers have been cooperative with the recent mask mandates in Jackson County, she thinks her customers will appreciate the county’s decision.

“They’ll come in, and you can tell they don’t like it,” Watts said. “It’s difficult, too, because whenever you have a bride in a dressing room, there isn’t a lot of room. And both of you are in there, you have masks, it’s difficult breathing. So this is just a wonderful thing for us. We’re excited.”

She hopes the mandate lifting will be a step toward normalcy.

“We can now actually take care of our customers like we want to,” Watts said.

Watts has been fully vaccinated and received her booster shot months ago. She thinks that vaccinations should be a personal choice not mandated by the government.

“There isn’t a blanket fix. And to me, it’s like they are trying to make a blanket fix with a mandate. I think it’s overreaching,” Watts said.

On the other side of the railroad tracks is Blue Heron Design. Assistant store manager Tara Smith says she is unsure how to feel about the county’s decision.

“I feel the nerves in my tummy. … Not in a bad way, but this (masks) has been such a big part of working in retail,” Smith said.

She understands mandates have been frustrating for a lot of people, but as for her business, the masks are staying on.

“Just because in a jewelry store, and in a jewelry setting, it’s so intimate. We’re such a wee shop,” Smith said. “To each their own in an environment like this. And if they don’t want to wear a mask, and they don’t want to shop here, that’s okay.”

Smith says she has received some pushback from customers over the course of the pandemic, but thanks to her regulars and loyal customers, business has stayed afloat.

“Taking the mask mandate away today … I don’t know if it’s premature," Smith said. "I’ll probably still wear my mask because it's habit now. And if it comes back, it comes back."