Small pieces of copy paper with handwritten messages on them. Makeshift spacing rearrangements. Shortened staff. If you've been frequenting any of New Orleans's fabulous small eateries during the quarantine, you are guaranteed to have encountered one, if not all, of these. In the world of America's too-long-lived coronavirus outbreak, the struggle of minute merchants has increased dramatically. Already struggling in recent years due to the rising tide of unstoppable competitors like Amazon and Walmart, small businesses that have suffered—yet survived—thus far in an era of no contact are truly resilient. In spite of the clear-as-day rich-get-richer fiasco that online retailers are exhibiting right now, mom-and-pop shops haven't given up all hope yet. They are adapting as the times change and surviving as a result.
Clear as day on the entryway of New Orleans's own Camellia Grill, you can see a sign that allows your admittance only if you have a proper face covering. Insomnia Cookies on Maple Street has a little piece of paper pasted on the door to remind you of the need to wear a face mask, complete with a hand-drawn smiley face. Even well-known chains have franchises that are under duress, but the hardy ones are making do.
Serving food with a smile and a kind word does not return a sense of normalcy, since the smile is hidden and the word is coming through a mask, but it does remind us that others are going through the same or worse and still surviving. Many businesses that have gone under as a result of not only health issues, but also the recent weather need our support and community service, and we must remember that small establishments doing everything in their power to stay kicking could use our aid as well. Maybe the next time you're craving stir-fry, get some fresh from a local restaurant instead of prepackaged from a big-name general store. To our small businesses, remember the words of Robert Hunter: "Just keep truckin' on."