Shelby Thompson wasn’t planning anything permanent when she stopped over to the Yuba-Sutter Mall recently. 

“I came to get my nails done,” Thompson said. 

But after Thompson saw an empty location that’s when things got a little more serious. She’s now the proud owner of Shelby’s Fashions since August, and is running what she says is a fairly successful business right smack dab in the middle of an ongoing public health crisis surrounding COVID-19. 

“I expanded from the Bay Area and I am a one-woman show here,” Thompson said. “Business has been steady, people are shopping and getting out. I have been welcomed by the community.” 

Shelby’s Fashions is one of many retailers at the mall expanding their indoor operations following the move into the red or substantial tier on the state’s economic blueprint for reopening in a pandemic. 

Thompson sells primarily clothes for women and children, changing out her inventory often to allow for better demand. 

“I change with the fashion and the times,” she said. “If you don’t you will be left behind.” 

Thompson said even men have appreciated what she has to offer, calling it “good encouraging words.” 

“They say, ‘This is a great store, good luck,’” Thompson said. 

Yuba-Sutter Mall has seen many changes in the last few months, and is now operating at about 50 percent capacity, according to Senior General Manager Natasha Shelton. 

Shelton said the children’s play area remains closed, but the food court has returned at limited capacity, giving people a way to fuel up during the annual shopping craziness that will soon be here for the holidays. 

“Black Friday will look a little different (this year),” Shelton said. “The approach that most retailers are taking is dividing it into three days beginning the day after Thanksgiving.” 

No more long lines and 4 a.m. craziness of the past, Shelton said. 

Walmart, typically known for its Black Friday excitement, is also changing its business model, agreeing to spread out its deals over the holiday season to avoid the long lines, Shelton said. 

The Yuba-Sutter Mall is not abolishing every one of its traditions, as Shelton said there will still be a Santa Claus meet-and-greet for kids. 

It will look a little different, she said, as Santa will be separated from the kids with plexiglass. 

However, Shelton said the plexiglass will not show up in the photos.  

It’s a change, Shelton said may become a permanent way of celebrating the Christmas season. 

“It’s something that might be a preference for people as not everyone likes to sit on Santa’s lap,” Shelton said. 

Other changes include the possibility of new store tenants to replace the location recently vacated by Sears. 

“Sears vacating was an opportunity for us to introduce tenants that align more with the community,” Shelton said. “We’re fortunate to continue to be open, as small businesses have been hit really hard with COVID.” 


Restaurants are another area of society that was drastically hurt by the statewide pandemic restrictions. 

Jesse Villicana, owner of Cool Hand Luke’s in Yuba City, said things have been slowly getting back to a more normal environment with the reopening of dine-in services. 

Villicana said the popular steakhouse located right off Hwy 20, is operating at a 65-person capacity for indoor dining. He’s also keeping patio dining, which seats 40. 

“Masks are encouraged for people to come in and walk all the way to the table, then they can take them off,” Villicana said. 

He also said the public can expect a menu with zero price increases. In order to avoid the all too common price jump, Villicana created a number of customer deals that have increased demand by keeping it affordable. 

He said a couple can come and spend under $30. 

Villicana is extremely grateful for the community’s support during the pandemic, one of the many reasons why he avoided any price changes whatsoever. 

“I am not adding more costs to the customer,” he said. “It’s not their fault.” 

He also remains fully staffed at the moment, with the need to only hire a few full-time cooks.

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