The curbside view of Molly's Community Cafe in Uptown Greenville.

The federal and local executive orders to ban mass gatherings has taken a toll on the economy and especially small businesses. Businesses big and small are operating as flexible as possible to stay open to serve customers and to also keep people safe.

With the closing of schools, theatres, and restaurants, businesses are coming up with ways to serve customers. According to an article from the New York Times “Layoffs are Just Starting, and the Forecasts Are Bleak” businesses are having to cut their hours or close their doors; as a result employees are laid off.

Small business owners have supported the proactive response to the coronavirus to help to flatten the curve of exposure to protect high-risk customers, their staff and themselves.

The small businesses in Greenville have communicated with the public about how its businesses will run and how the public could support them at this difficult and uncertain time.

Heron Michelle Jenkins, owner of The Sojourner Whole Provisions, a herb shop in the Uptown District, sent out a newsletter “The Sojo’s COVID-19 Response: Curb-side, personal shoppers, Distance Support” to inform customers on how the business would be able to serve them.

The “open-door hours” are reduced to noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays. The store is closed on Mondays for the next few weeks to reduce overhead costs.

“The Sojourner is very concerned about how we will pay our bills, and continue in business through a prolonged interruption, but we will find a way, responsibly, together,” Jenkins said.

Keeping a 6-foot distance and a limit of one to three related customers will be served inside the store and plastic gloves and hand sanitizer is provided. Call in personal shoppers and curbside pickup is also provided to serve customers who are not feeling well or who are “at-risk” customers.

Jenkins said the shop expects support from government agencies to protect their small business due to the mandatory closures and that sales were reduced in previous days.

“We expect support from local, state and federal government agencies to protect our small business, and see us through these mandated closures. Sales were reduced to a third of the previous days. There are going to be very difficult times ahead,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the staff at Sojourner is also committed to helping out the Greenville community and will continue to offer their holistic healing support in many until the pandemic goes away.

“The Sojourner Staff is committed to being helpers to our community, and will continue to offer our holistic healing support in creative and responsible ways, for as long as it takes to see us all through to the other side of this pandemic,” Jenkins said.

Jimmy R. Williams, co-owner of Molly’s Community Café, said the cafe is also serving its customers by taking orders by phone or online and providing gift cards to provide a safe environment for their customers and staff.

“We here at Molly’s Community Café want our customers to be safe and healthy. If they can, we urge them to not go out and if they are sick, please take care of themselves. We want to serve them after this current emergency is over,” Williams said.

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