Jeannine Cook knew challenges would confront her early and often as a first-time business owner when she opened Harriett's Bookshop in Philadelphia.
Yet she didn't expect the global COVID-19 pandemic or a national reckoning over injustice for Black people following the killing by George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Seattle.
"Not knowing that fast forward a few months and everything that would happen with George Floyd's murder and Breona Taylor's murder would occur and in that it would be even more important for people socially to understand their ignorance around certain topics," Cook said.
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She and Harriett's Bookshop on Girard Avenue in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia are taking part in a digital documentary series called Rebound, created by NBC Owned Television Stations and NBC LX.
COVID-19 has impacted every facet of our lives. For small business owners, those impacts are even greater.
To better tell those stories, we decided to launch a series about how small businesses are faring throughout the coronavirus. But a raging pandemic presents some obstacles for traditional journalism.
Business restrictions, reduced hours of operation, and social distancing guidelines have changed how journalists tell their stories. So we flipped the script. identified six small businesses across America and supplied them with a camera.
In Rebound, these businesses take you behind the scenes during COVID-19, to show you just how much things have changed throughout the pandemic. Rebound tells the stories of these small businesses and how they are bouncing back from an unforeseen pandemic.
Nearly 7.5 million small businesses are at risk of closing permanently amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey from Main Stream America. Economists estimate that more than 100,000 small businesses have already closed due to the pandemic, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In early July, the Trump administration disclosed the names of small businesses that received PPP loans between $150,000 and $10 million.
Several of the businesses featured in Rebound applied for PPP loans or other federal aid, but only a few received assistance.
Cook said she spent a lot of time over the last few months applying for grants to help keep her doors open, something she had no idea would be so important. She was able to receive two local grants, including from the Fishtown Merchants Association.
The journey has been a fulfilling and rocky one, and started much earlier in her life than she ever imagined. Rebound follows the highs and lows of Harriett's, named for Harriet Tubman, during the summer months.
"I thought this would happen years and years and years (from now), that I'd retire into it," Cook said of opening a bookshop.
But once she got the idea, it erupted into reality.
"What started as a whisper got louder and louder, and became at some point a scream," she said.
She is excited that her business serves a life's goal.
"Our mission is to celebrate women authors, women artists, women activists," Cook said. "I'd never been in a bookstore that focused on and celebrated women, especially black women.
I never said we were exclusive or that there is someone who couldn't come in here" she added. "All we're doing is to celebrate women."