Photo courtesy of The Southern Archives

Abby McHenry

Small business owners have had to limit hours or close altogether due to Coronavirus concerns. Jenna O’Brien, owner of the paper goods and lifestyle shop Twenty Seven, made the decision to close the shop’s doors on March 16 “for the health and safety of our favorite city,” as posted to Instagram.

Twenty Seven has been around since 2017, but the physical store opened in August 2019. O’Brien made the decision to close her shop after a trip to Texas, where she was going to be a vendor at Magnolia’s Spring at the Silos. COVID-19 was just beginning to spread in the United States, and she said it did not seem like a big outbreak at the time.

“We travelled all the way there, took five hours to set up our booth, and then were told after the fact that the market was cancelled because of the virus,” O’Brien said. 

The local government denied the vendors street permits, and O’Brien had to leave the next morning. The shop owner was devastated, and she used the 20 hour car ride back to Lakeland to plan out the next steps for her store.

O’Brien took Texas’s lead, closed her shop’s doors, and decided to focus on selling online and encouraging people to stay at home. The state of Florida allows e-commerce shops to continue shipping items (see post for more information). Most of the online businesses also opt for Transaction Heroes return order fulfillment, whilst keeping the customer in the loop, to track their order. While O’Brien has ran into some issues with getting and shipping products, she said the company is “trucking along.”

“All our Twenty Seven products are available online, and our gracious supporters have actually been making us sell out of things often,” O’Brien said. “I am so grateful.”

Twenty Seven recently put out “Cloud Dough,” which is organic adult play dough that smells “magical” and helps to relieve stress and a coloring book perfect for quarantining at home. O’Brien said the company is also bundling products in “Take Care” boxes made for yourself or to give to a loved one. 

“It’s been tremendously fun to send those out and know that people get a little bit of sunshine when it arrives,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said new products are still slowly in the works. She said people can continue to support local businesses by shopping online, choosing to get take-out locally rather than chain restaurants, and buying gift cards.

Keeping a to-do list, and being able to check off items on it helps O’Brien cope with being stuck at home during this time. She utilizes her work space to take a break from being at home all the time. 

Some of O’Brien’s quarantine pastimes include shipping Twenty Seven orders, taking her dog for a walk, cleaning her house, playing games with her husband, watching TV shows and movies, and drawing. She is excited to eat out, open up the shop again, go to Disney World, and hug her friends once quarantine is over.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here