Small businesses adapt to challenges throughout COVID-19


Neve Galmarini.

Dominic Macaulay, a barista in the cafe located in the back of Longway, cleans up the cafe for the end of the day.

When COVID-19 hit Marin County in Mar. 2020, businesses had to adapt to the new regulations. As of Jul. 2021, 33 percent of small businesses had closed throughout the pandemic, either temporarily or permanently. Those still open followed COVID-19 safety regulations, continuing business as usual the best they could.

Justine Delio, General Manager of Longway, a clothing store in downtown San Anselmo, started her position back in Sep. 2020. According to Delio, before she started her position, Longway closed for a few weeks due to COVID-19. Delio says the most difficult aspect of COVID-19 was trying to run the business while also trying to keep people safe.

“We had to change a lot of things with health regulations and guidelines… social distancing and capacity in the store… was hard to regulate for sure,” Delio said.

Despite safety regulations, Delio said that she frequently asked customers to follow mask mandates and that Longway eventually had to close indoor seating for safety measures. However, Longway rallied support from San Anselmo community members, who were eager to see the business grow. Many people came into the store to purchase clothes or coffee from the back of the store and are now regular customers.

“We were asking everyone to have a mask up, obviously…. Capacity wise we were doing a little bit less and we had no one really sitting in the back and the lounge was closed,” Delio said.

Other businesses, such as Parkside Preschool in San Anselmo, faced difficulties similar to Longway. 

Retta, a student at Parkside preschool, tried to ride the merry-go-round during quiet time.

“In the very beginning, we had to close down because of the severity of COVID-19. We were closed for two months, which was hard because it was the very beginning of the year,” said Mallory Beren, a teacher at Parkside.

Beren says that the most difficult part for the school during the pandemic was figuring out how to teach the children virtually, because using software like Zoom was challenging due to their young age.

“We had to figure out how to still teach the kids from home,” Beren said. “It was just trying to figure out how to still make learning fun for preschool age kids when they couldn’t actually come to school.”

According to Beren, it is still a struggle to keep the school running smoothly even now that they are in-person again. She says that it is difficult to monitor the young children in terms of following COVID-19 safety regulations.

“We have to stay six feet apart and try to keep the masks on kids, which is the hardest part when working with preschoolers,” Beren said.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, small businesses have adapted to the regulations and continue to grow.