Employees at Mayfield's local theater have started a GoFundMe effort to keep it open and the movies rolling.
Princess Theaters of Mayfield is in danger of closing its doors indefinitely after a string of projector malfunctions left owner Joe Smith scrambling.
According to a post on social media, last summer both of his projectors were in dire need of major repairs: a new server was needed for one, and the other had to be replaced. That left his business $32,000 in debt and Smith behind on taxes.
In September, Princess Theaters closed for two weeks so the machines could be re-conditioned. Though they were under warranty at the time, it was two weeks without customers.
Two of his employees, Connor Adams and Savannah Forester, surprised him with an idea to help save the Princess through a GoFundMe account. The gesture, he said, brought him to tears.
"They know what it means to me to keep it going," Smith said. "Every single penny I own has been put into this theater."
Smith even sold his tractor to get almost halfway to the $10,000 needed to save his business from completely shutting down. The GoFundMe account was created on Feb. 2 and has reached $1,090 of its $5,000 goal.
He also said he would try to sell some of his film collection.
Smith has worked in the theater industry for 45 years. He and his then-girlfriend bought their first theater for $30,000 when he was 19 years old in Plano, Illinois. The building was an old opera house from 1912.
The first film they showed was Walt Disney's "The Bears and I," which he still owns in 16mm print.
They owned the theater for approximately 10 to 12 years.
Smith said he always had eyes on a theater in Mayfield though, and finally saw his dreams come true 15 years ago. He named his Mayfield Plaza twin cinema "Princess" after another theater that existed downtown.
"If we can get through this, we'll continue to operate it," he said. "It belongs to the community; I just run it. I love the customers and I've met a lot of great people here."
To make a donation, go to gofundme.com and search for Princess Theaters of Mayfield.